LA QUINTA, CALIF.
Before Patrick Reed earned his PGA Tour card in December 2012, he successfully Monday-qualified for six events and made 12 starts that year.
That experience, with wife Justine at his side as his caddie, has come in handy in the first two rounds of the Humana Challenge.
“For sure,” Reed said. “It’s a birdiefest, this tournament is. ... It’s pretty easy to get in that Monday-qualifying mindset, due to the fact that you’re playing three different courses.
“So, the first day, it’s like, ‘All right, well, let’s see how we do against the guys in my course there.’ And the same thing every day.”
A day after shooting a 9-under 63 at PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course to take the lead, Reed had another 9-under 63 down the road Friday at tree-lined La Quinta Country Club to stretch his advantage to two strokes over Brendon Todd.
“It’s great to have that feeling that you can go out and shoot 63,” said Reed, the Wyndham Championship winner in August. “And to actually do it two times in a row shows that what we have done during the offseason and what we’re doing now is working.”
Justine is pregnant with their first child, and her brother, Kessler Karain, is subbing as Reed’s caddie.
Justine has walked every hole with her 23-year-old husband this year and plans to rejoin him inside the ropes after the baby girl arrives around Memorial Day.
Justine got a good look at his best shot of the day, a high 5-iron approach on the par-5 fifth that landed softly and rolled to 4 feet to set up an eagle. He also had eight birdies and his lone bogey in 36 holes.
La Quinta has been that kind of place for the former Baton Rouge, La., high school champion who helped Augusta State win NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011. When Reed earned his PGA Tour card back in 2012, it was at PGA West.
Todd had a 63 on the Palmer course. He’s the only player without a bogey.
“Obviously, both days were really solid,” Todd said. “Bogey-free was huge. ... Before I knew it, I was at 7- or 8-under with a few to play, feeling like I should birdie every hole. ... The weather’s been so good, I’m not surprised to see what Patrick did.”
The temperature climbed into the 80s and it was so calm the ponds looked like glass, the water as still as the plastic swans PGA West uses to scare away geese.
Ryan Palmer was third, three strokes back at 15-under, after a 65 at La Quinta. He also made a short eagle putt on the fifth hole.
“Overall, it was another great day,” said Palmer, coming off a tie for eighth in the Sony Open in Hawaii. “Another great finish, hanging in there, staying strong.”