ATLANTA — Patrick Reed could barely breathe.
Then he found out just how close he was to dying. Hospitalized with bilateral pneumonia in both lungs, Reed got sobering news from his doctors. To make matters worse, he was all alone. His family was not allowed by his side because of the pandemic.
“First couple days they were sitting there telling me that, make sure you text your family quite a bit, talk to your family, because you just don’t know. I mean, this is not good. We’re not in a good spot right now,” Reed said Thursday after the opening round of the Tour Championship. “… I’m sitting there, and those first two days the only thing that was going through my mind is, I’m not going to be able to tell my kids goodbye. I’m not going to be able to tell them I love them. I’m not going to be able to tell my wife that I love her and give her a hug.”
On Thursday, Reed played his first full round of golf in nearly a month. Twenty-five days to be exact since the final round of the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis. He missed time with an ankle injury, and then he was forced to go to the hospital Aug. 19, where Reed said he spent four or five days. He said the issue was in the lower lobes, “where a lot of deaths and people pass away from.”
It is unclear whether Reed tested positive for COVID-19. He posted on social media Wednesday that he has been vaccinated for the coronavirus and wrote, “I’m not sure if I had the Delta variant.” He said Thursday that he wasn’t tested in the hospital until he left and that then he was negative.
“It hit me just like a brick,” Reed said. “I mean, just all of a sudden I went from feeling OK to literally feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was almost drowning in air, and it was, it hit me so fast and it was so brutal.”
After being discharged, Reed practiced Monday, the first time he had touched a golf club since Memphis. Not yet cleared to fly, he drove to Atlanta on Tuesday. He played nine practice holes Wednesday before teeing off Thursday for a full round. He shot 2-over par 72.
Reed entered the FedEx Cup playoffs ranked No. 22 in the point standings. Unable to play in either The Northern Trust or the BMW Championship, Reed fell to 30th and was the last player to make the 30-man Tour Championship field. He started the staggered scoring event at even par, 10 strokes behind leader Patrick Cantlay.
Reed was upbeat after getting through an entire round. There were times he seriously didn’t know whether he would walk out of the hospital let alone traverse East Lake Golf Course so soon after fighting for every breath. He continues to get monitored for oxygen levels in his lungs and has been cleared to fly Monday.
“It definitely puts you in a dark space when you’re in there, especially those first two days,” Reed said. “But I’m so happy to have such an amazing team and such amazing doctors that were working with me to get me through it and to get me working in the right direction on the way up. And to think that I’m able to be here and play and really feel like today, I really felt OK. I mean, it’s a little frustrating not having the speed, not being able to hit the shots and really feel certain things quite yet, but I took a ton of time off. I mean, I was battling for my life. I was in the hospital. And the good thing is now I can hit the ground running hopefully.”
Reed is getting his mind back on golf. The longest of shots to win the FedEx Cup under the circumstances, Reed expects to have his game back completely for the Ryder Cup at the end of September. He said during his practice Wednesday that he hit a hybrid club to eight feet on the par-3 ninth hole and made the birdie putt – right in front of Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker. Reed, known as Captain America for his Ryder Cup prowess, is currently 11th in the standings and looking to be picked for the 12-player team.
“The great thing is I felt like I can play now, I feel like I can do what I’m supposed to do,” Reed said. “I feel now it’s just get some reps in and just get the energy level and strength back which just takes a little bit of time, a little reps, a little practice.”