AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Patrick Reed is best known for his Ryder Cup conquests but the confident American is setting his sights on a maiden major at a familiar haunt after grabbing the halfway lead in the Masters with a blistering six-under 66 at Augusta National on Friday (April 6).
He rattled off three birdies in a row on three different occasions to offset three bogeys on a blustery day to forge a two-stroke lead over Australian Marc Leishman on nine-under 135.
The 27-year-old, who boasts a brilliant 6-1-2 record from two Ryder Cups, was tied for second at the 2017 PGA championship and is eager to take the next step up into the winners' circle on a course not far from his old college, Augusta State.
"Everyone wants to win, and if you don't believe you can win them, then you probably shouldn't be playing in them," the five-time winner on the PGA Tour told reporters. "I believe that if I play the golf that I know how to play, that I can win Majors."
He has never wanted for confidence. He won two state high school championships in Louisiana and won two US national college titles while at Augusta State. Yet even though he had chances to play at Augusta National during his college days, in four previous Masters appearances, his best showing was a tie for 22nd in 2015.
"The more you get to play out here, the more comfortable you get with the golf course, the more you kind of find little subtleties and nuances that you need to know about," he added.
"And I also feel like I'm in a better frame with my golf game and kind of mentally coming in. I feel like I've done all the work, like I know where I need to leave the golf ball, and most of the pins out here, and it's now just going out here and executing the game plan and staying disciplined enough to actually stick to that game plan.
"I've been doing that the first two days, and it's allowing me to kind of attack this golf course and not make a lot of mistakes."
He birdied his first three holes, made another three from the seventh before a final wave of birdies from the 13th. He had 22 one-putts in the round and birdied all four of the par-fives.
Making his Major breakthrough at the Masters would be particularly special for Reed.
"It's Augusta National. I mean, this golf course is one of the best that we ever play... to be able to drive down Magnolia Lane and see just the perfect grass and really just the lush, green fairways, it's basically golf's heaven," he said.
"You go out and you have to play well and it's just a place that is very special to me, special probably to a lot of the guys. Just go out and play some good golf."