AUGUSTA — Only the graceful flow of tradition stays safely between the pine straw at Augusta National Golf Club, which saw an unusual burst of firsts and worsts at the 82nd Masters.
Tony Finau became the first player to dislocate his ankle in the Par 3 Tournament, pop it back into place himself, make the cut and make seven straight birdies on Sunday.
Defending champ Sergio Garcia carded a record-worst 13 on the 15th hole.
Jason Day — first Aussie to bounce a drive off a patron’s shoulder and directly into the man’s beer cup on the first hole.
All of which slipped into long Sunday afternoon shadows cast by emerging star Patrick Reed, the first former Georgia Bulldog to have most of Dawg Nation pulling against him amid azaleas.
Stirring bad blood that’s good for the game, the utterly unpopular 27-year-old won his first major by holding on against hard-charging, immensely admired runners-up Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.
Collective reaction to Reed’s clutch habit of chasing bogeys with birdies?
Brief golf clap for that rare three-shot leader/underdog going into Saturday.
"I watched all the analysts (Sunday morning), and they all picked Rory," Reed said. "Except Notah Begay (of The Golf Channel). Thanks, Notah."
Hooray for a wonderfully talented golfer and social media pariah who was on his best Augusta behavior but sometimes yaps at fans during tournaments.
The U.S. Open can’t get here soon enough.
Reed is attached to scandals involving substantiated drinking and family squabbles and alleged cheating and stealing. But that’s not really why PGA Tour players on both sides of the pond can’t stand him.
It’s more about the arrogant Texan who joined the tour, quickly won three tournaments and announced he was a “one of the top five players in the world.”
Reed earned “Captain America” status for an emotional 2016 Ryder Cup victory over Rory McIlroy, his struggling playing partner Sunday. That came a year after ESPN.com polled PGA Tour pros, asking “Who would you not help in a fistfight?”
Shucks, Reed wasn’t even the top former Georgia player in that poll; Bubba Watson finished No. 1.
He was a solid No. 2.
Like it or not, he now looks like a multi-major winner over the next decade.
‘I don’t really care’
Family drama isn’t really anybody’s business until it spills onto the golf course, which it did for Reed in 2014. When the parents he didn’t invite to his wedding showed up at the 2014 U.S. Open, Reed and his wife Justine (per Golf Magazine reporting) asked tournament officials to revoke their passes.
Asked Sunday about his parents and sister missing from the Masters gallery, Reed said, "I'm just here to win golf tournaments."
Reed said his dismissal from Georgia after the 2008-2009 season was about two drinking incidents.
He denies the report in Shane Ryan’s book “Slaying The Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour” that he was guilty, as teammates suspected, of hitting someone else’s golf ball in a fairway after going in the rough and taking $400 in cash and a putter in the locker room.
Never mind that Reed later led Augusta State (now Augusta University) to two national championships; most past Masters champions were probably pulling for Spieth.
Any contender but Reed.
Cue the shrug.
“Honestly, I don’t really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me,” Reed said. “I’m out there to do my job, and that’s to play golf. I feel like if I’m doing it the right way, then that’s all that really matters.”
Forgive Reed for some mistakes of youth. It’s just that he’s really good at picking at scars.
For instance, the Georgia-Notre Dame football game in South Bend last September.
Only one former Georgia golfer tweeted a photo of himself and his wife on site fully decked out in Notre Dame gear with the words “Almost GAMETIME! This is such a special place! #GoIrish!”
Of course, any worthy Hollywood script includes a villain vile enough to elicit sympathy, a bad guy with good intent, the misunderstood miscreant.
Enter Reed and his resolve under duress Sunday — complete with multiple Amen Corner fist pumps after his first-ever birdie at the par 3 12th hole.
Patrick and Justine have two cute little kids.
Justine was Reed’s caddy from 2012-2014, until the arrival of their firstborn.
Now Reed’s caddy is his brother-in-law, Kessler Karain.
Team Reed Foundation donates to St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter in Kentucky, the Ronald McDonald Foundation, Fischer House, Duke Center of Cancer Research and the American Junior Golf Association.
By the way. Reed says he grew up a Notre Dame fan.
“From Patrick Reed’s play on the golf course, to his personal life, he puts passion into everything he does,” says the Team Reed website.
For better or worse, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff