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Golf's next big thing: Patrick Reed?

By Rich Stevens
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Golf's next big thing: Patrick Reed?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The smiley-face and goofy-haircut profile picture on the PGA Tour's website aside, Patrick Reed is ultimately what the PGA Tour needs to re-energize if, and when, Tiger Woods decides to put his golf clubs away for good.

Eldrick Woods doesn't fit the profile of the guy who will play until he's a half-century old and then shuffle off quietly to the sunset of the Champions Tour.

When he's ready to hang it up, despite the appearance that he craves the attention which comes with being the world's most-polarizing, yet popular, golfer, I don't anticipate Tiger ever being a regular on the senior circuit.

I could be wrong, but if he did, the Champions Tour would be licking its chops for the attention it desperately craves despite being loaded with Hall of Fame players.

Play or not as a guy eligible for senior discounts, his departure probably scares the daylights out of the PGA, which has leaned heavily on his status as a needle-mover for television ratings.

They need not worry.

Yes, Jordan Spieth has won two majors this year, remaining alive to win the calendar-year grand slam despite being less than a year removed from being legally permitted to purchase alcohol.

Rory McIlroy is one of the most-publicized young golfers because of his ability and a high-profile relationship with one of tennis' bright, young and attractive stars, Caroline Wozniacki -- don't underestimate the drawing strength of an athletic power couple retaining the attention of TMZ, et al.

As much as it will disappoint folks who want desperately a "gentleman" (i.e. quiet, mannerly, robotic) to become the next big thing on the PGA Tour, they're going to have to accept Reed.

If that sounds painful, don't be alarmed and try to understand the reasoning as both players get set to compete this week on the unpredictable, yet grand Old White TPC.

Reed hasn't toed the line that the Tour keeps drawing in the sand for players to maintain the aura of the ultimate gentleman's game.

OK, it's not the Tour per se, but what people on the periphery deem acceptable on a golf course.

REED: His incredible ace | His incredible tan line 

Growing up around golf, the expectations are that you don't move in a player's line of sight, don't cough in a backswing and never, ever, peel off the Velcro of your glove when somebody is hitting swinging a club. We had one of those situations at a West Virginia Golf Association event some years ago.

Every other professional sport is inundated with irrational, loud and intoxicated fans, law-breaking participants and powers-that-be not wanting to upset the balance that brings eyes to the TV like deer to headlights.

In basketball, hard fouls are expected. In baseball, it's OK to throw at a batter if he admires a homer in his previous at bat and touchdown dances once were the synchronized norm of the NFL. In the NHL, the mere thought of banning fights on the ice is blasphemous to some.

Guess what drew the attention to the PGA Tour?

An African-American golfer who is remarkably talented.

Quite frankly, you'd be hard pressed to find any athlete, in the past 50 years, have as much impact on a professional sport as Tiger.

Even with his indiscretions, Tiger has maintained the ability to carry a sport more than anybody else (yes, this includes LeBron James).

That's not the kind of pressure Reed needs, but his edgy personality and lack of political correctness has drawn the ire, and focus of many.

He's quite the polarizing guy, from tales of fudging scores in college to gay slurs insulting himself during a tournament to a personality that some describe, in the most conservative sense, aloof.

When he was earning tournament spots through the grueling Monday qualifier path in 2012, he was not receiving sponsor exemptions. This wasn't the guy, evidently, that the Tour needed. He told me at the 2012 Monday at Glade Springs that he didn't understand why nobody was stepping up to give him a pass to an event here or there.

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I didn't either.

The world of professional golf is as competitive as ever thanks to the lucrative career players can enjoy.

Fact is, you're getting paid to play a game.

It's not exactly digging ditches, so you can appreciate the allure.

At the Ryder Cup last year, before the much-publicized bickering between captain Tom Watson and team, Reed was outplaying his more experienced colleagues and shushing the crowd at Gleneagles.

There's a level of confidence with this guy that's often perceived as arrogance.

I guess it's not entirely true that there's no such thing as bad publicity, if that's what you think pugnacious Reed brings to the table.

Then again, the PGA Tour will need something to keep, at least, a modicum of the television ratings it loses when Tiger takes his glove off for the last time.

As long as he keeps winning, Reed will answer the call.

This article was written by Rich Stevens from Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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