ATLANTA – Patrick Reed says doctors told him the pneumonia in the lower lobes of both lungs could have been fatal and that he was “battling for my life” during the early days of his hospitalization.
A week after Reed got out of the hospital in Houston, he was in a van driving to Atlanta — doctors didn't think he was ready for cabin pressure of a plane — to play in the Tour Championship in a last-minute bid to be considered for the Ryder Cup.
Still unclear was whether he had the coronavirus. A Golf Channel report Wednesday evening said Reed told the network that he did. Reed put out a vague statement on Twitter that said, “I was vaccinated for COVID-19 so I'm not sure if I had the delta variant.”
Reed said Thursday he was vaccinated about a month ago. He was asked specifically if he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“They never tested me. I don't know,” he said. “I obviously got tested when I was leaving and I tested negative. So that’s always a positive. When I went into the ER and with the scans and everything they did on my lungs and everything, their main priority was to make sure that we fought this pneumonia in both lungs because of how fatal it can be.”
He said the bilateral pneumonia hit him suddenly and hit him hard on Aug. 19.
“All of a sudden I went from feeling OK to literally feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was almost drowning in air,” he said. “It hit me so fast, and it was brutal.”
He said doctors were telling him during his first few days in the hospital to make sure he texted his family and talked to them, saying, “You just don't know. I mean, this is not good. We're not in a good spot these days."
"So I'm sitting there and those first two days the only thing that was going through my mind is, ‘I’m not going to be able to tell my kids goodbye. I’m not going to be able to tell them I love them. I’m not going to be able to tell my wife that I love her and give her a hug.’
“It definitely puts you in a dark space when you’re in there, especially those first two days,” he said. “But I’m so happy to have such an amazing team and such amazing doctors that were working with me to get me through it. ... I mean, I was battling for my life. I was in the hospital. And the good thing is now I can hit the ground running, hopefully.”
Reed only started hitting balls on Monday, with a monitor to measure his oxygen levels. And then he spent all day Tuesday getting to East Lake. The 800-mile drive from Houston to Atlanta was made even longer because of Hurricane Ida, forcing his route north of New Orleans.
He said doctors told him he should be clear to fly on Monday.
“I go to the doctors and just kind of see where I’m at,” he said. “But the way everyone on my team kind of makes it sound is once this week’s over, I’m full go to be able to do exactly what I want.”
As far as the FedEx Cup, Reed was fortunate to stay among the top 30 who qualified for the Tour Championship having missed the last two postseason events. And he said he wouldn’t be at East Lake if this wasn’t a Ryder Cup year.
Steve Stricker makes his six captain’s picks after this week. Reed would have been out of competition for a month had he not made it to East Lake.
“My energy was OK. My speed is not there yet, obviously,” he said after opening with a 72, his first time walking 18 holes since Aug. 8.
“I think that was the biggest thing today is being first time playing 18 holes, how am I going to feel, how are my lungs going to feel?.” he said. “I know there’s going to be some ups and downs on the golf course because I haven’t played in a while, but I feel like the health — my lungs and my health — hung in there today. I look forward to just getting stronger every day.”
Reed has played in the last three Ryder Cups without having to be a captain's pick.