LEADBETTER to REED: “YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME WORLD NUMBER ONE”
FEBRUARY 3, 2021
On the Thursday eve of the Farmers Insurance Open, David Leadbetter hosted 50 Leadbetter Instructors from around the world in the first “Leadbetter Teach-In” of the year, a weekly series where Leadbetter Instructors are given the opportunity to learn from experts in the game. David headlined the session, sharing the progress he and Patrick had made over the last six months – breaking down old swings, explaining the progress, process and the desired outcome of their work. Instructors were given a behind the scenes look at not only the technical aspect of Reed’s training, but of the resources, effort, and commitment required in this unique, high-profile relationship.
Little did they know, they were analyzing the eventual 2021 Farmers Insurance Open Champion.
Reed and Leadbetter began their relationship roughly a year and a half ago, with a phone call from wife Justine asking David for a quick tune up with Patrick prior to the Valspar Championship. David recalls, “I would see him here and there but it would often be a fix for what was happening in that day. There was never really a plan in place. I always thought he would be an interesting player to work with.”
Over the next year, Patrick remained with his longtime coach, seeing David on and off, eventually making a full transition this past summer. “Remarkably, considering the success that he has had, he has never been in the top 100 in fairways hit or greens in regulation. His great short game has enabled him to compete at the highest level. I always thought that if we could get his long game anywhere close to the quality of his short game, the sky was the limit as far as what he could achieve. So, it was definitely a challenge that excited me.”
Challenge accepted. No stranger to high-profile players, David knows the effort and time required in producing world number ones and major champions. At 68 years old, and having achieved so much in his more than 30 years of teaching, Leadbetter gives a lot of thought when considering taking on new clients. “I said to Patrick, the main reason I am doing this at this point in my career, considering the fact that I knew that how much work would be involved, was because I honestly believe he has the opportunity to become the number one player in the world, which tied in exactly to his goals as well.”
“I honestly believe he has the opportunity to become the number one player in the world, which tied in exactly to his goals as well.”
So what will it take for Reed to become number one in the world? Well, as David stated, the long game needs to become more consistent, particularly his iron play. “If you go back through the history of the game, great players have always been great iron players. We have already seen some big improvement in this part of his game in just a few months. In my opinion, he has all the components needed to succeed at the highest level, especially when you consider his ultra-competitiveness and will to win,” says Leadbetter.
A team effort
Based out of Leadbetter’s international headquarters in ChampionsGate, FL, Sean Hogan—LGA’s Director of Instruction—has worked alongside David for nearly thirty years. In recent months, Hogan has been seen discreetly on the sidelines at tour events including the BMW at Wentworth, Dubai, and most recently at Torrey Pines.
Hogan provides an experienced eye, assisting David and helping Patrick stick to the blueprint that they have designed. “In the case of Patrick, or any amateur golfer of any skill level that attends a Leadbetter Golf Academy, we pride ourselves on giving them a plan for success. Being so close to David here at our headquarters here has allowed us to work in collaboration on a day-to-day basis with the likes of Lydia Ko, Trevor Immelman, Suzann Pettersen, and many other tour players. Through his philosophy, David has really made it easy for his coaches over the years to divide and conquer, thereby giving the player that seamless coaching experience,” says Hogan.
The complexity of a swing change can be difficult, especially at the highest level. David has explained the process looks much different than infamous swing changes like that of Sir Nick Faldo. David noted, “Essentially when we started to look at Patrick, he had some posture issues and a few things to address right away. But I couldn’t have done a ‘Nick Faldo,’ which basically took two years to complete. I told Patrick, ‘this is going to be a work in progress, we will work on small changes over a period of time, so you can play well in the interim.’”
Sunday, as he tipped his cap to the world, Reed echoed similar sentiments as he celebrated his ninth PGA Tour win. Reed expressed, “I’ve seen a lot of great things with the work that my coaches David Leadbetter and Sean Hogan have done with me. I’ve seen it in spurts and to see it actually hold up on a Sunday, which honestly this is the first Sunday that I had nerves going throughout the day with the golf swing, because normally I just kinda get into those grooves, you know you’re playing well and just freewheel it and make good golf swings. It’s still not 100% where the golf swing needs to be and to feel like it’s not 100% there and still be go out and get the ‘W,’ it means a lot to me and it means that I am on the right track and that my coaches and our team are doing the right things.”
“It means a lot to me and it means that I am on the right track and that my coaches and our team are doing the right things.”
Despite a controversial ruling fiasco, it was also an undeniably commanding win: a five-stroke margin of victory, Reed’s largest on the PGA Tour. Reed’s mental fortitude quieted many on Sunday, proving that his desire to win and his game was stronger than any online chatter. “Throughout my career, I have worked with many different people and personalities and Patrick is a different personality. I love his attitude. He has no fear whatsoever. He loves the limelight and is very confident in his own ability,” said David, prior to the win.
A U.S. Open setup at Torrey Pines will likely present monstrous conditions, putting immense pressure on ball striking and placement off the tee. If this week was any indication, one can only imagine the state of Patrick’s game and confidence come June.