Patrick Reed and Justine Karain are not taking any shortcuts. Like many ambitious young golfers with an impressive college resumé, Reed wants to compete on the PGA Tour.
But for the soon-to-be 22-year-old former all-American at Augusta State, he doesn’t have member status on any major tour.
For now, his only path to gain entry into an event is to receive a sponsor’s exemption or make it through the competitive Monday qualifying round.
During the past three months, Reed and Karain, his 5-foot-1 blonde caddie and fiancee, are writing a Hollywood script.
Reed has Monday-qualified for four events and been granted exemptions into three others, including a spot at this week’s John Deere Classic in Silvis.
“We kind of like the grind, like the struggle,” Karain said. “I know that sounds crazy, but when you work so hard to get somewhere it means a lot more to you when you get there.”
Reed has made four cuts and pocketed $130,790, with a career-best finish of 24th at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in April.
“It has been rough, but you really learn how to manage your time extremely well,” Reed said. “With all the traveling and lack of practice rounds, you don’t have much time to relax.”
Karain has been there each step of the way.
The 25-year-old is a registered nurse and has a second degree in health service administration, but she has pushed that aside to carry a bulky golf bag and travel the country with her future husband.
“It has been a wild, fun ride,” Karain said. “I had to learn quickly, and he’s been a great teacher. We’ve had a lot of fun.”
Team Reed’s adventure began in late April with a 35th-place finish at the Texas Open in San Antonio.
After the final round, the two hopped in a car and drove 550 miles to New Orleans. They arrived at 2:45 a.m. Monday and were on the course four hours later for the Zurich Classic qualifier.
Reed converted a birdie on the second playoff hole to snare one of the final spots at TPC Louisiana.
“My butt is getting flatter because there’s been a lot of driving and a lot less sleep,” Reed admitted.
Once the Zurich Classic ended, they boarded a flight to Greenville, N.C., for the Wells Fargo Championship Monday qualifier at Carolina Country Club.
On abbreviated sleep, Reed qualified by draining a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole, a putt Karain read.
“She knows how to read greens perfectly,” Reed stated. “She’s read a lot of crucial putts correctly.”
Reed also Monday-qualified at the HP Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut last month.
“I love having that one day where you have to produce immediately,” he said. “I had a lot of that in college through match play.”
His impressive Monday-qualifying streak came to a halt last week at The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.
Afterward, the two jumped in their rental car and drove 101/2 hours to Chicago.
Then last Friday night, JDC tournament director Clair Peterson called Reed to award him a sponsor’s exemption.
Instead of spending Monday at Pinnacle Country Club, Reed was on the range honing his game at Deere Run with Karain.
Reed and Karain met three years ago through Karain’s sister in Baton Rouge, La. The two immediately hit it off.
“When something is easy, it is the most fun,” Karain said.
After Reed returned from a golf event in Trinidad and Tobago last January, he proposed. The couple is slated to get married Dec. 29.
In the meantime, she is walking the fairways to help him pursue his dream.
Karain, who played two years of high school golf, has shouldered most of the overnight driving.
“It has been amazing,” Reed said. “All these guys out here are traveling alone, so to spend a whole year and every day with my fiancee is a lot more comforting.”
Karain said it has strengthened their relationship.
“We have our moments where we may be at odds, but we do a good job of leaving it on the course or leaving our personal life at home,” she remarked. “I’ve definitely learned to love the game and our love is great.”
Reed needs to earn roughly $280,000 to match No. 150 on last year’s money list and qualifying for special temporary membership. That would allow him to play up to 12 PGA Tour events as a non-member.
As for Karain, it is uncertain if she’ll remain on his bag long-term.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t want to mess anything up that works for us, but we’ll have to see what happens,” she said. “Right now, we don’t see any point changing it.”
The feel-good story continues at 9 a.m. Thursday off the 10th tee at TPC Deere Run.
“Guys have seen our faces a lot out here lately,” Reed said. “Everybody has been really nice to us and accepted the fact that we’re out here because we’re earning our spot.”