Mel Reid quit golf in September. Many people wouldn’t know that or see the reason why she would do so considering she’s at the top of the leaderboard through two rounds at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But she did. She quit. She was done.
“I legit quit. When I got my injury, I tried to play through it, which I kind of felt I had to because I was losing my card, and then yeah, we don't get money being on a medical. So yeah, in September I literally told Carly, I'm going into media, like I'm going to be one of you guys. I'm not playing golf anymore,” said Reid. “Then took a couple of months. I worked pretty much every day with Duncan (McCarthy, her sports psychologist), so massive credit to him.
“With things like that, if you just give me a bit of space, I do kind of work it out myself. I was playing golf at home when I was kind of feeling fit with the boys at Atlantic Beach (Country Club), and I just was enjoying it again. I missed the competitiveness of it, and I thought right, okay, let's give it one more go. I've just been really enjoying myself this year.”
When the itch came back, Reid knew she needed to do things differently. She called her old swing coach, Jorge Parada, with whom she split in 2021 and asked him to take her back. He did. She put an emphasis on her sessions with her sports psych, who has helped her separate herself from her golf game. And she got a hefty dose of perspective when she and her wife, Carly, found out they were expecting their first child later this year.
“She's starting to show now, which is quite exciting, but I guess I'm playing for something bigger than myself, like I'm playing for obviously Carly and hopefully going to have our own family now. Kind of puts things in perspective,” Reid said. “Golf is really cool, and I'm really happy that I get to do it as a job, but at the end of the day, we're going to be a family of three in the not-too-distant future, and that's pretty exciting.
“It has given me a little bit more drive this year for sure. I want to win tournaments, and I want my kid and my wife to be running out. Like that's something that I would love to have. It's definitely given me a lot more drive and got my hunger back for the game for sure.”
Now, Reid is 4-under through 36 holes at the second major of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and has a legitimate shot at capturing her second career victory this weekend at Baltusrol’s Lower Course, becoming the first Englishwoman to win a major championship since Georgia Hall at the 2018 AIG Women’s Open. Friday’s round saw the 35-year-old make one bogey and five birdies, including two back-to-back birdies on holes 7 and 8.
So far this season, Reid has missed three cuts and recorded three top-25 finishes, the best of which is a T15 that came at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer in Galloway, N.J., the event that Reid became a Rolex First-Time Winner at in 2021. A few weeks before ShopRite, Reid made the cut on the number at the Cognizant Founders Cup playing on one of her last medical starts, ultimately finishing T25, good enough to be reshuffled up the 2023 LPGA Tour Priority List.
The last three seasons haven’t been kind to the Englishwoman when it comes to major championships – Reid has missed five major cuts since 2021 – but she’s making up for it this week at a challenging Baltusrol Golf Club, sitting in a tie for second and one shot back of the lead, finding success in damp, linksy conditions that favor a player from her part of the world.
“The rough is really thick. It's obviously a bit wet. I feel like that's okay for me because I'm one of the stronger players,” she said. “I'm not really too scared about hitting it in the rough, so I feel like it's kind of freed my driver up. I struggled with my driver last round of Meijer. I hit it terribly, worst I've hit it all year. Didn't hit it great yesterday, either, until the last three or four holes. Driver is usually my weapon, and I hit it in the rough a lot yesterday, and it kind of freed me up today because I knew I could get it out of it.”
As she looks ahead to the weekend in Springfield, N.J., Reid is ready for the challenge and is relishing the opportunity to be in this position. It’s been a while since she’s contended for a title on the LPGA Tour, and with plenty of golf left to be played, there’s still plenty of opportunity for both success and failure, something that Reid will take in stride as she works to keep her process in the forefront of her mind.
“Am I surprised? Yes and no. It's halfway. Like to me, I don't feel like I have the lead,” said Reid, who is now one shot back of Leona Maguire. “It's kind of weird. Don't really think that I did anything that impressive today. I just kind of stuck to my game plan. I have my things that I stick to and just trying to stick to those things. I have them written in the back of my book.
“I'm trying to keep in my own little world and execute the shots as well as possible. We've got a long way to go, and this golf course can eat you up in a heartbeat. It’s nice to be up there after two days, but there's still a lot of golf left.”