CHARLOTTE, N.C. – He’s basically a rookie, living like a journeyman, and hoping to fast find a foothold somewhere.

The past three weeks, second-year pro Patrick Reed has parked himself squarely in the middle of the PGA Tour.

One year after he secured the winning point to lead Augusta State to its second NCAA Division I golf title, Reed, is playing for the third straight week on the biggest tour of them all, despite having absolutely no playing status as far as eligibility.

He has taken the road less traveled, to be sure, and it’s not for the faint of heart. He has entered three straight Monday qualifiers, a longshot route that usually features dozens of hopefuls for a handful of perhaps four open spots.

“We’re basically running on adrenaline,” Reed said. “We’ve been running around with our heads cut off the last month.”

It’s been an incredible trip, and it’s not over yet. After Monday qualifying this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, Reed shot an opening 6-under 66 to claim a share of the first round lead at one of the deepest fields of the year.

After turning pro last summer following his clinching victory over Georgia’s Harris English in the NCAA final – English is now a PGA Tour member – Reed washed out of U.S. and European tour Q-schools. This year, he’s been working on his game and trying to play his way into fields, and three weeks ago, he started picking up some serious momentum.

Reed, 21 and ranked No. 972 in the world, was playing in a Monday qualifier at the Texas Open when he was pulled off the course by the tournament director and give a last-minute sponsor exemption that had become available.  He made the cut.

He drove straight to New Orleans on Sunday night, and on four hours rest, Monday qualified for the Zurich Classic. He made the cut and made birdies on five of the last eight holes. On a roll, he flew to Greensboro, N.C., and drove to Charlotte to play the Monday qualifier this week, where his caddie and fiancée, Justin Karain, helped him read a huge putt on the last hole that kept him out of a playoff for the final open qualifying spot. Trusting her judgment, he made the putt and shot 65. 

It’s all starring to blur.

“My butt’s getting flatter from a lot of driving,” Reed cracked.

But his wallet’s getting a lot thicker. He’s made $82,755 in the past two weeks and has a potentially massive payday ahead this week if he plays remotely as well as he did Thursday, when he was tied with Rickie Fowler and three others for first place as the morning wave completed play.

“It just feels like if I keep working on my golf game, keep improving on my golf game, I can play out here,” Reed said, nearly beaming. “Last week I had Bubba, Luke, I had to deal with those guys.  This week I have Tiger, Phil, Rory, Westwood.  You're sitting here like, okay, just week after week getting better.

“It's just building confidence and also just building my comfort level, able to see those guys and playing against those guys.”