BETHESDA, Md. — When the idea came up for Justine Reed to caddie for her husband, Patrick, on the PGA Tour, she said he didn’t immediately agree.
There were tests involved.
It was the spring of 2012, his first full year on the tour. He and Justine, a nurse who also has a degree in health admission, had been engaged for a few months after dating about 2 1/2 years. They would be married in December.
As much as Patrick sought someone dependable that he could trust, as much as he wanted to spend more time with his fiancee, he wasn’t sure the 5-foot-1 dynamo with the long blonde hair could handle it.
So at a Monday qualifier on a humid day in Houston, he loaded up his bag and gave her a chance.
“He threw everything in the bag and tried to make it as hard as possible. I didn’t break a sweat. So he said, ‘OK,’ ” Justine said. “We weighed the bag a year and a half later. It was around 40 pounds.”
Carrying the bag wasn’t the only hurdle. Patrick had to learn whether Justine could read putts. She was a well-rounded athlete as a youth and was on the girls golf team at her high school in Baton Rouge, La., but he wanted another set of eyes on the greens.
“After about two rounds of practice I knew,” Patrick said last month before the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club. “I had her read every single putt. She was giving me the reads that were the same thing I was seeing. When I thought she was wrong, I went with her reads. Ninety percent of the time at home she was correct. It came down to some clutch putts in Monday qualifiers to make it and I went with her reads and we made it. She’s definitely earned the spot.”
This week at Firestone Country Club, Patrick will compete in his first World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He had hoped to have Justine back on the bag after she gave birth to their first child, daughter Windsor-Wells Reed, on May 22. (Justine said the name was supposed to be hers until her grandmother changed her mind the night before she was born.)
Patrick’s agent said that Justine might return at the PGA Championship Aug. 7-10, but more likely after the FedExCup playoffs. Justine will be in Akron, walking every step of the way with him in the no-cut event.
After caddying for Patrick’s 39 previous tournaments, Justine moved outside the ropes for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January. Filling in is her brother, Kessler Karain.
Justine and Patrick teamed for his first tour victory at the Wyndham Championship last August, then Reed won two more times with Karain at the Humana Challenge in January and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March.
“We have some work to do when I get back. He has two wins and I have one,” Justine said at Congressional.
“All I need is another win, I might be on my way,” Karain said.
The job is Justine’s for as long as she wants it, Patrick said.
“If she lets me, she’ll be on the bag until I basically retire,” Patrick said at Congressional. “We’re huge competitors. Of course we love to win, but we love to compete, we love to try to improve and get better at anything we do. She’s a huge athlete. Me, I’m just a golfer. We absolutely love it and have to see when that time is.”
Justine is 27, Patrick turns 24 on Aug. 5. While continuing until he retires might be out of the question, she’s literally in it for the long haul.
“I think he wants me to do it for a good amount of time,” she said. “We’re young. Why not?
“It’s helped along the way, the bonding aspect of it all. You go through some tough times together.”
At the Wyndham Championship, Patrick became the first PGA Tour player to win with his wife as his caddie since 1996, when Steve Stricker claimed the BMW Championship with Nicki on the bag. The victory for “Team Reed” ended an exhausting life of driving to tournaments for Monday qualifiers.
“We think about it all the time,” Justine said. “When we have a tough day out there, sometimes it’s not as tough as it used to be. It’s something we like to keep in the back of our minds at all times, how you got here in the first place. He worked extremely hard. Not every day was a good day. We went through stretches where it wasn’t good at all. But you have to keep bouncing back.
“I think we were tired for a year straight. It’s different now. Life can be easier than jumping in a car Monday qualifying every week. But it makes you strong. I think it makes for a stronger golfer when you have all those trials and tribulations.”
Patrick has made a name for himself for more than three career victories. A member of two national championship teams at Augusta State, he became the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships event in March at Doral. After his triumph, he called himself “one of the top five players in the world.”
Justine said that was not a case of success going to Patrick’s head.
“We would all bring him back to earth if he was ever like that,” she said. “You can get a different perspective of him from the media, but at the end of the day Patrick’s the same person he was when we started out. I know who he is and he knows who he is. People can love him or hate him, but at the end of the day he’s still Patrick.
“He says what’s on his mind. That may get him in trouble at some point. I kind of enjoy somebody who has a personality, who has his own perspective on life.”