NASSAU, Bahamas — Captain America is back, but not without some consternation. There are plenty in and around the game who would have had no problem with Patrick Reed being put in “timeout” for a year as penance for his pointed remarks in the aftermath of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
For the reprieve, Reed has none other than his idol — Tiger Woods — to thank. The same Tiger Woods whom Reed seemingly dissed in France after their unsuccessful partnership. And the same Tiger Woods who could have left Reed off the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
What might have seemed a tough call for Woods, the playing captain, was really an easy one. Despite Reed’s shortcomings in Paris, he remains one of the top players in team competition for the Americans. And to have not picked Reed would have meant endless questions for both about what transpired in the aftermath of an ugly American loss to Europe.
“Tiger and I and all the guys talked after France way before [the captain’s picks],” said Reed, who is playing in this week’s Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club prior to next week’s Presidents Cup. “That was all put to bed. We all talked about it. We’ve all moved on. And we’re all just really excited for this year and to focus on going out and doing what we’re supposed to do, and that’s to play the best golf we can, win points and have fun while doing it.”
Fair enough, but the Reed situation was not going to go away, and it likely still will linger over next year’s Ryder Cup, especially if Jordan Spieth is part of the U.S. team.
Spieth did not make the Presidents Cup team that will compete against an International team at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
But it was his separation from Reed last year in France that led to Reed unleashing in the aftermath, despite being paired with Woods in two team matches.
“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed told the New York Times after the Ryder Cup. “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me, as long as it works and sets up the team for success.
“He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”
Spieth was instead grouped with Justin Thomas, and they went 3-1; while Reed went 0-2 with Woods — unable to break 80 on his own ball in their best-ball match — before winning his singles match.
Not playing all the matches miffed Reed.
“For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice,” he said.
Reed’s point was that he and Spieth had been successful, sporting an impressive 4-1-2 Ryder Cup record, 8-1-3 including the Presidents Cup. They went 2-0-1 in their first Ryder Cup in 2014 and were 2-1-1 in a U.S. victory in 2016.
It’s the way Reed handled it that drew so much negativity.
“We spoke after the Ryder Cup for a long period of time and we talked amongst us and will stay between us,” Woods said about the situation last year.
After picking Reed, Woods said: “This is a person who is as fiery as they come, and he’s bleeding red, white and blue and he will do anything to get points for you, and that’s what we want. He’s a great team guy in there because he knows that when he goes out on that golf course, he’s going to give you absolutely everything he has, and that’s admirable, and the guys are looking forward to embracing him and having be a part of the team.”
Reed was unable to make the top eight automatic qualifiers, but he did win the Northern Trust in August and finished 12th in the final standings.
Reed also has an overall impressive record and a history of being a tough competitor in match play, despite what happened in France. He is 7-4-1 overall in the Ryder Cup and 4-3-2 at the Presidents Cup. And it doesn’t hurt that he has been able to keep his game sharp, unlike several of his teammates.
The Hero World Challenge is Reed’s eighth start since the Tour Championship, by far the most of any American player. He had three top-15 finishes during that stretch.
“I was definitely fired up to get the phone call from Tiger saying that I was a pick and that he can’t wait for me to be a part of the team and that I’d bring a lot to the team,” Reed said. “That means a lot, especially coming from one of the greatest golfers ever to live on this planet. For him to trust in me and the team to trust in me means a lot because it means I’ve worked hard and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and that’s try to go out and play the best golf I can.”
Woods is known to have a long memory, but he did himself and U.S. teams — now and in the future — a favor by including Reed. It helps put the controversy to rest, and Woods brings on a player whose form is decent and who has a proven record, despite the shortcomings in France. And Reed figures to be a big part of future teams.
Reed will be motivated to perform, as well. That 1-2 record a year ago didn’t sit well, and he is well aware of the controversy that has surrounded him since.
“For some reason, I love to go in and basically feel like my back is up against the wall and go out and try to prove something every week I play,” Reed said. “It’s just been something that’s always been a part of me.”
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