AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Patrick Reed has developed quite a knack for Monday PGA Tour qualifiers.
For the second straight week, the 21-year-old Reed beat the long odds, successfully Monday qualifying for a PGA Tour event. He also got into the Texas Open three weeks ago when he was offered a sponsor exemption while playing in the Monday qualifier.
The exhausting stretch has left him and his caddie, fiancee Justine Karain, running on fumes.
Now the extensive travel and sleepless nights might be about to pay off.
For the first time in his six starts on tour, Reed is in position to make some noise after a 6-under 66 that left him a stroke off the first-round lead in the Wells Fargo Championship. That put him ahead of some of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.
The big question now is when _ or if _ Reed runs out of gas.
"We're basically running on adrenaline," Reed said. "We're pretty tired. Actually, I'm not really getting to practice a lot after and before rounds here, trying to conserve energy because we've been running with our heads cut off for the past month."
The run began three weeks ago.
Reed, who helped Augusta State to national championships in 2010 and 2011, caught a break when he was pulled off the third green during a qualifier for the Texas Open and was offered a sponsor exemption after Peter Lonard withdrew from the field. Reed made the cut and tied for 35th to earn $29,915.
"That's basically what jump started this whole entire run," Reed said.
He and Karain didn't have time to celebrate, jumping in a car and driving 10 hours to New Orleans for the qualifier the next morning at the Zurich Classic.
She drove. He slept.
Or at least he tried to.
"It was a little bumpy," he said.
The couple pulled into the Big Easy at 2:45 a.m. and, on four hours sleep, Reed went out and shot a 4-under 66, making a birdie on a second playoff hole to earn his way in.
Again he cashed in, tying for 24th and pocketing $51,840, his largest paycheck ever.
A few hours later it was back on the road.
The couple had to fly through Chicago to get to Greenville, S.C., Sunday night. After another 90-minute drive to Charlotte Monday morning, the tireless Reed jumped out of the car and buried a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to finish 5 under, avoiding an 11-man playoff for two spots in the Wells Fargo Championship.
Reed says he couldn't have done it without Karain, a registered nurse who has put her career on hold to be his caddie. He often plays on emotion and has a tendency to get upset when he misplays a shot.
Karain calms him down.
"She's so positive with the whole thing," Reed said. "If I hit a couple bad shots I'll start to get down on myself and she'll pick me right up immediately and won't allow me to self-sabotage my round or any hole."
Said Karain: "We make a great team. I think his attitude has improved dramatically. If he misses a putt I'm just there to say `Hey, just let it go. Just believe in yourself _ you can do it.'"
Reed said along with being his emotional support, she's also proven to be valuable in other areas, too.
"She's amazing at reading greens," he said.
It was Karain who read a 12-foot putt perfectly on the 18th hole at Zurich last Friday allowing Reed to make the cut.
"I couldn't really see the line and the next thing you know I was able to play the weekend," Reed said.
With each passing day Reed's confidence is growing.
That was evident Thursday. When playing partners Jamie Lovemark and Charlie Beljan were reaching for 3-woods, Reed was grabbing his driver.
He averaged 294 yards off the tee and needed just 26 putts.
"Just with how I've been hitting the ball, I felt like I could really attack, especially with the driver," Reed said. "I was just getting closer to the green and being able to keep it in play. I had a lot of wedges in my hands, and when I had that, I capitalized on it. Next thing you know, I'm 6 under and tied for the (early) lead."
He hopes the strong play will continue into the weekend.
The Wells Fargo Championship offers a $6.5 million purse and a chance at some economic security.
There are still 54 holes to play, but Reed would certainly love to grab a big paycheck to supplement the mere $101,813 he has earned since turning pro last summer.
"We'd definitely be taking more flights if we do well here," Reed said, laughing. "I just want to improve week to week. If I do that then I'll hopefully be able to get into the top 10. Then maybe I won't have to do these Monday qualifiers. That would be nice."
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