AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Patrick Reed's father was crying on the phone. I was crying on the phone. We both had good reasons.
Bill Reed's son had just won the Masters, and he wanted to give him a hug. My mother died far too young years ago, and I wanted to give her a hug.
Neither of us could have what we wanted most.
So we cried together Monday morning, two 50-something fathers talking about regrets and family divisions and the things people wished they would have said and done before loved ones passed away. We talked about green jackets, too. Patrick won the Masters three miles from where his father, Bill, mother, Jeannette, and younger sister, Hannah, watched with family friends Sunday evening from their Augusta home. They were uninvited guests to the coronation of golf's brash new 27-year-old king.
And yet the moment Patrick sank his winning putt, his mother, father and sister started hysterically weeping as they fell into a group embrace. "As we were all hugging as a family," Bill said, "we said, 'This is for Patrick too. We are all hugging him too.'"
He lost it on the phone. I lost it on the phone.
"We thought about trying to go there and sit back outside the ceremony," Bill said, "but we couldn't find any badges."
The Reeds haven't spoken to their son and brother in six years. Like most family estrangements, theirs is complicated. It's Patrick and his wife, Justine, and her family on one side, and Bill, Jeannette, Hannah and their family on the other. The Reeds are not welcome at Patrick's tournaments; Golf.com reported that they were escorted off the grounds of the 2014 U.S. Open on Justine's wishes. Some years ago, I ran into Bill at a tournament, and it was clear he was trying to watch his son play golf without anyone noticing he was watching his son play golf.
Bill did not want to discuss the specifics of the estrangement Monday morning, other than to say he desperately wants it to end. Bill and Jeannette are still waiting to meet Patrick's two young children, their grandkids. "We will pray every day like we have that we will get to see Patrick and those two kids," Bill said. "We pray every day that our families will be together."
Patrick Reed said this when asked Sunday if his family's absence made the triumph bittersweet: "I'm just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments."
But Bill wants this to be about the Masters, and the joy of a father watching his own flesh and blood. As soon as Patrick was born, Bill bought him a plastic set of golf clubs. He was not trying to raise a champion. He merely thought golf would someday help his son as a grown-up businessman trying to make deals on the course.
They lived off the Dominion Country Club course in San Antonio, and father and son couldn't get enough of the game. They practiced in the house with plastic balls, imagining rugs as tee boxes and greens and hardwood floors as water hazards. The Reeds would drive over to Hank Haney's ranch in McKinney, Texas, where one of the instructors, Peter Murphy, would show Patrick tapes of Haney's lessons with Tiger Woods.
Patrick grew into a cocksure prodigy, a two-time NCAA champion at Augusta State, a five-time PGA Tour winner and, by Saturday night, a 54-hole leader at the Masters. Rory McIlroy, four-time major winner and Reed's Ryder Cup victim at Hazeltine, told the world all the pressure was on the man with a 3-shot lead and no major titles to his name. Bill Reed knew immediately that McIlroy had just made a tactical error.
"That was the beginning of the mistakes for Patrick to really dig in," Bill Reed said. "If you caught that moment in Patrick's press conference when he was asked about Rory's comment, you can see a little smirk on his face. If I was Rory, I wouldn't have done that. Yeah, Patrick was going to be nervous, but the enormity of the moment is never too big for him.
"During those five or six hours, I had a visual frame of him growing up through the years. It was a picture show in slow motion."Bill Reed's emotions were raw as he watched his son win the Masters
"I mentioned this to Jeannette on Saturday night: The more I heard on the telecast who they thought would win, and the more I heard people picking Rory and the other great players, I said to them, 'Patrick is watching this. Or his in-laws and wife are watching this, and they're telling him this. That's all you need to do with Patrick. If you doubt him and tell him he can't do something, that's all he's going to need.' ... Don't get Patrick riled up.
"And then Sunday, I could tell when I saw Patrick. Internally he was not going to let anybody take this victory away from him. He may not have had his best stuff from the first three days, but I could see it in his face that when he needed to make a putt, or to offset something, he was going to dig down and make sure nobody took that away from him."
As Bill Reed watched his boy pummel McIlroy and turn back the spirited challenges of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, Patrick's childhood flashed before his eyes. He described the near out-of-body experience as exhilarating and surreal.
"During those five or six hours, I had a visual frame of him growing up through the years," Bill said. "It was a picture show in slow motion. Patrick running out of the back door where we lived in San Antonio, near the sixth green on the course. Hitting out of that bunker. Playing a loop of four or five holes we could walk when Patrick was a young kid. All the trips to the juniors and the amateur events.
"I saw his life's history, all those times with him. And then I saw it culminate with Patrick winning the Masters."
Watching with family and friends from his outdoor kitchen area, some of them wearing afghans, Bill Reed wasn't concerned about the two-putt his son needed on the 18th green. He was worried earlier about Patrick's final tee shot, and the need to stay in the fairway and out of the bunker.
"I had a sigh of relief once he got the tee shot through that gap," Bill said. "We all know how dangerous that gap is. At that moment, come heck or high water, nothing was going to keep Patrick from getting to the house."
Patrick made his par to beat Fowler by one, and three miles away, his parents and sister grew more and more emotional as they absorbed the scene. Sergio Garcia, the 2017 champion, put the green jacket on Patrick's shoulders, and the Reeds cried some more.
Bill is a 58-year-old executive director for Quest Diagnostics. Monday was a workday, but it wasn't any ordinary workday. The emails and texts and calls were overwhelming. So were the memories.
"As parents," Bill said, "you want the best for your children no matter what they are doing. You want them to succeed at the highest level, especially in Patrick's case, because he's always been a tireless worker. I have goose bumps just talking about it."
Bill started to say something about his hope that his son wakes up one day and ... and ... and then he lost it again. I followed his lead.
Bill Reed's son just won the Masters, and all the winning father wanted was a hug.