Patrick Reed goes back to his San Antonio roots, and his own family, to find a fill-in caddy

Maybe there was a loss of momentum when Patrick Reed took a week off after winning the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge. His caddy doesn’t think so.

“It shouldn’t,” said Kessler Karain, who took up the bag for Reed in December. “He has a really great work ethic. He knows everything about a course when he shows up for the first round. And when I say he works, I mean it’s every day that he’s working.”

Reed, who was born 23 years ago in San Antonio, missed the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego with a rib injury but returned at Pebble Beach.

Karain, who turned 25 in January, is a graduate of UTSA and was working as a medical-equipment sales rep in San Antonio when he got a call about becoming Reed’s caddy. The San Antonio ties between Reed and Karain were a coincidence. The logical connection between the two was Karain’s sister Justine. She’s married to Reed and was his caddy until it was time to take maternity leave. The Reed’s are expecting the birth of their daughter this spring.

“When Justine and Patrick called me and asked if I would think about filling in (during Justine’s maternity leave), my response was ‘What’s there to think about,'” Karain said. “I was good at what I did (as a medical-sales rep). And when I put in my two-weeks notice, I left on good terms and everyone on my job and my friends were incredibly happy for me and told me to go for it.”

So Karain left behind the world of selling insulin pumps and started reading putts, tending flagsticks and providing yardages to pins and bunkers for Reed. He met up with his brother-in-law and trained at the Houston-area golf course not far from the Reeds’ home in Spring.

His first-on-the-job assignment? That landed him on Maui for the PGA Tour’s swing through Hawaii at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where Reed finished 16th and earned $100,000. Getting a cut of the check (caddies generally make anywhere from five percent to possibly more than 10 percent of a player’s winnings) and seeing whales blowing through the Blue Pacific not far off in the distance from the fairways gets Karain a nomination for career move of the year. When Reed won the Humana, the first-place check was just a little more than $1 million.

“I don’t have a girlfriend, no kids, so why not go travel and see the best golf courses in the world?,” Karain said. “It’s the best office you can have.”

Karain said he’ll look at getting back into medical-equipment sales, or explore opportunities in real estate, when Justine returns as caddy around Memorial Day. But he’s enjoying watching his brother-in-law’s career take off. Reed has two wins on Tour, and this is less than two years from the time Reed had to go through Monday qualifying or sponsor’s exemptions to get a spot in the field (he was given a sponsor’s exemption for the 2012 Valero Texas Open in San Antonio and finished 35th).

So, Reed’s success is long past the fluke stage, if it ever was fluky. He helped his high school in Baton Rouge, La., win two state championships and he was on back-to-back NCAA Division I national title teams at Augusta (Ga.) State. During the NCAAs he won match-play competitions twice over Peter Uihlien when Uihlein was reigning U.S. Amateur champ and defending NCAA champ, and also over current Tour players Harris English, Chesson Hadley and Brooks Koepka.

Reed’s win at Humana came with three consecutive 63s to set a PGA Tour record 27-under-par after 54 holes. And his first Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship in August came in a playoff over Jordan Spieth.

“Anytime we’re out there,” Karain said, “there are a lot lot players who come up to him and tell him ‘You absolutely deserve to be here.'”Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation - Final Round


About longlostgolfer

This is the correspondent in San Antonio.
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