CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Patrick Reed comes to the Greenbrier Classic loaded with confidence.
Nothing new there.
He showed it in 2014, after he won his third PGA Tour title, a World Golf Championships event no less. After beating Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson by a stroke, he became the youngest player to win a WGC.
And, in an interview with NBC, he let loose. He cited his junior career, his NCAA career and his budding pro accomplishments in making a head-turning declaration.
"I just don't see a lot of guys that have done that, besides Tiger Woods, of course, and, you know, the other legends of the game," he said. "It's just one of those things, I believe in myself and -- especially with how hard I've worked -- I'm one of the top five players in the world."
He hasn't risen that high in the world rankings, but he rose to 20th with that win, and to 14th by winning the Tournament of Champions in January. He owns a seventh-place and runner-up finish since, and was tied for 14th in the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
He missed the cut at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, but he considers that a speed bump. This week, he plans to improve on his 26th-place finish in last year's Classic. He missed the cut in 2013 and missed out in a Monday qualifier in 2012.
"I feel like my game is in the right place," said Reed, a native of San Antonio. "Feel like I'm hitting the ball solid; feel like I'm rolling the ball well. I need to have everything click at the same time.
"Seems like this year so far one thing has been off here or there, which has caused me to have top 25s that should have been top 10s, top 10s that should've had a little bit more chance to win coming down the stretch."
If you want to go Tiger hunting, you'll have to get up early on Thursday.
Woods, paired with Steve Stricker and David Lingmerth, will tee off for the first round at 8:10 a.m. on hole No. 10.
One can take a more leisurely approach to see Watson, who will tee off at 1 p.m. from No. 1. He'll be joined by Bill Haas and Davis Love III.
Other tee times of note has defending champion Angel Cabrera setting out at 1:10 p.m. from No. 1 with Reed and Keegan Bradley. Louis Ooosthuizen, Webb Simpson and Paul Casey will tee off at 8 a.m. from No. 10.
Among those making early appearances on Tuesday were Oosthuizen and Cabrera. It's Oosthuizen's second trip to White Sulphur Springs, but his first this hot. In the recent U.S. Open at Chamber's Bay, he set a record for the lowest 54-hole score of 199, which was closed with a 29, and fell just short of Jordan Spieth.
"Obviously not the greatest start, but I finished strongly," Oosthuizen said. "I probably could have saved one in the first 18 holes."
Oosthuizen praised the Old White TPC, despite its penchant for allowing birdies.
"I like the golf course," he said. "I think I finished 20th or something last time I was here and didn't putt well, but hit the ball really well ... It's a nice spot for me to come back to and I feel my game is there to have a good week."
Cabrera likewise enjoys the Old White.
"I'm very happy to be back and to be here at the Greenbrier," he said through an interpreter. "To come back as a defending champion is very important for a player. Every player likes to come back to where he has won."
Cabrera was asked if he feels pressure as the defending champ.
"I've never had pressure," he said. "Wouldn't have had pressure if I hadn't won it. I'm under no pressure."
The weather forecast hasn't improved for the Classic, at least as of Tuesday.
The Weather Channel calls for a 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms the whole way, from Thursday through Sunday and beyond.
The Official World Golf Ranking has given its rating of the field, and its formula wasn't necessarily kind. The winner of the Classic will receive 40 rating points.
That's the fourth-highest of the six Classics, and the lowest of those played during Fourth of July week. On the other hand, that is still substantially higher than the 32 awarded the winner in the 2011 and 2012 Classics, which were played in late July/early August.
Last week's Travelers Championship awarded 46 to the winner. The all-time high for the Greenbrier was 48 in 2012. The number was 42 in 2013 and 2014.
This article was from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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