There's little doubt that Masters champion Patrick Reed will enter the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship among the golfers favored to win.
Even if he's not known as a fan favorite, his Masters title, his reputation and his life story also mean that little he does at Quail Hollow or in Charlotte is likely to escape attention.
Six years ago, attention was not a given for a 21-year-old golfer "treading water on the PGA Tour" and playing in his first Wells Fargo Championship. Still, longtime Observer golf writer and columnist Ron Green Sr. chose to follow Reed and his fiancee, Justine Karain, for a round at Quail Hollow.
"... I spent a good part of my Saturday watching what to me, a tender soul, is the best story of the week at the Quail Hollow Club," Green wrote in 2012.
Green described the journey Reed and his future wife, then his caddy as well, took on together to play Quail Hollow that year.
That adventure, which included some nights with little sleep, took the couple from Augusta, Ga., to San Antonio, Texas to New Orleans in her tiny car. A series of flights only a travel agent could love — New Orleans to Chicago to Greenville, S.C. — then another car ride landed them in Charlotte.
He needed a birdie on the 18th in Monday qualifying at Carolina Golf Club to make it in. His fiancee/caddy's perfect read on his final putt landed him a spot in the field.
The sight of 5-foot-1 Karain dragging six-footer Reed's golf bag caught Green's eye.
"You see those two coming up a fairway and you say, what’s wrong with this picture?" he wrote.
The couple met when Reed was a student at Augusta State, where he led the Jaguars to back-to-back NCAA golf championships. After spending time with them, Green thought that Reed and his fiancee, a nurse who became a caddy to spend time with him on the tour, "are a movie waiting to be written."
Still, the screenplay for such a movie, like that that series of flights that took them from New Orleans to Charlotte, might seem unnecessarily complicated at times.
Golf.com's Alan Shipnuck is among the writers who have compiled the acts that make up Reed's sometimes knotty life, which include getting kicked off the team at Georgia and a long-term estrangement from his parents, who didn't want him to get married at 22.
Still, Reed has proved more than capable of leaving any baggage behind to focus on his golf game. Golfweek.com's Beth Ann Nichols detailed how Reed set about conquering Augusta National through a meticulous series of practice rounds — "a deep dive on a course where he’d had little success."
So, six years after his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow, Patrick and Justine Reed are married with two children. Her brother is his new caddy. And he's a major champion.
Tournament officials announced last week that Reed, who held off Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to win his first major tournament by a stroke at Augusta National Golf Club, is returning to Charlotte's Quail Hollow Club for the May 3-6 PGA Tour event.
Reed has played at Quail Hollow for six PGA Tour events, including last August when he notched his previous best finish in a major — a tie for 2nd at the 2017 PGA Championship.
Reed joins a growing list of major winners committed to the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship. Phil Mickelson committed to the tournament earlier this week.
The tournament announced earlier this month that former Masters champions Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel along with two-time major winner Kaymer would play this year. Other major winners in the field include Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover and Vijay Singh.
Players have until 5 p.m. on April 27 to commit to the Wells Fargo Championship. They can withdraw at any time.