BETHESDA — Patrick Reed makes no excuses about copying his idol, Tiger Woods. He wears a red shirt and black pants during the final round of tournaments. All three of his previous PGA Tour victories have come after holding or sharing the 54-hole lead.
After becoming the youngest to win a World Golf Championship event, in Doral, Fla., this spring, the 23-year-old Reed did something Woods didn't need to at a similar stage of his legendary career: proclaim himself one of the five best players in the world.
Reed will be attired in Woods' trademark Sunday colors when he tees off in the final round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club . On a day when Congressional's Blue Course put many in contention in the black — only 31 players were not above par after Sunday — an even-par 71 Saturday gave Reed a three-shot lead at 6-under-par 207.
Not that he is thinking about his idol, who happens to be the tournament host, handing him the trophy.
"Honestly, that's really the last thing on my mind," Reed said. "If I start getting ahead of myself, that's when you start making careless errors and that lead starts to shrink."
After seeing what had been a three-shot lead he held with Freddie Jacobson of Sweden disappear in a string of three bogeys over the first 13 holes, Reed separated himself again by making birdie on the par-5 16th hole and saving par out of the bunker on the par-4 17th.
"It was one of those days where you were able to grind it out; it played tough," said Reed. "It seemed to get firmer and faster as the day went on, and there was just a lot of adjusting you had to do during the round. We handled it pretty well, and luckily we have the lead going into tomorrow."
Reed leads Jacobson, Marc Leishman of Australia and Seung-Yul Noh of Korea by three shots. The three have combined to win as many PGA Tour events (three) as Reed since he gained exempt status last year.
Since making those comments at Doral, though, Reed had missed the cut in five of eight previous events. While some saw another Woods wannabe getting his comeuppance, Reed believes his dip had more to do with the fact that his wife and former caddie, Justine, gave birth to their first child in May.
"After we won Doral, I was more focused on making sure Justine was all right and making sure the baby was fine," Reed said. "You know, family comes first, so I was more focusing on that. When I was on the golf course, I wasn't 110 percent focused on what I was doing."
Reed said he doesn't regret saying what he did, and he has not taken any flak for it from his fellow pros.
"They all believe in themselves that they are one of the top players," Reed said. "You have to. You can't play this game with a lack of confidence. We're all trying to strive for the same thing, and some guys get there, and that's all we're trying to do."
Asked whether he had an idol when it came to confidence, Reed pointed to Woods.
"I mean, every time he walks, every time he speaks, or anything on the golf course, he looks like has confidence in himself, and he works hard at it," Reed said.