ANTALYA, Turkey — The first round of the Turkish Airlines Open was only one good part of a very good day for Patrick Reed. Hours after hearing he is one of U.S. captain Tiger Woods’ four wild-card picks for next month’s Presidents Cup in Australia, the former Masters champion toured the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in a bogey-free, seven-under par 65.
Not surprisingly, the 29-year old Texan was in fine fettle afterwards. At the end of a season in which he has managed one victory amidst a plethora of steady play, life is good for the man who bleeds blue and white as well as red for his country in team play. Typically, his talk was of the fighting variety.
“This is the first time I’ve been a pick,” he said. “But it just makes me want to go out there and justify my place even more. I want everyone to think Tiger made the right decision when he picked me. But my bigger aim is to help make the whole team better, whether that is on or off the course. play good golf. I must admit I dug myself a hole earlier this year. That’s why I didn’t qualify. And I’ve been forced to play more of the golf I know how to play to get a pick. Winning the first event in the FedEx play-offs was huge. And I played well at Wentworth (T-4) in the BMW PGA. Then I was top 10 (T-8) in China. I feel like I’ve played some solid golf.”
Reed had known of his selection since talking with Woods earlier this week. The pair had swapped text messages in the wake of Tiger’s recent victory in Japan, but there had been no Presidents Cup talk on that occasion. Whether he meant to or not, the American skipper was making Reed sweat. Not that he was complaining.
“I still had to go play in China,” says Reed, who partnered Woods somewhat disastrously at last year’s Ryder Cup in Paris, the pair losing twice in fourballs to Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. “I still had a job to do. So we didn’t talk about the Presidents Cup until earlier this week. Tiger and I have always had a pretty good relationship. And when the guy who is arguably the best-ever player calls your name, tells you he believes in you and says he wants you on his team, that means a lot. He thinks I have something I can bring to the team. Now all I have to do is play the best golf I can and show him he made the right decision.”
That plan isn’t always successful of course. Reed’s day wasn’t quite perfect. Playing alongside Scotsman Robert MacIntyre and Nacho Elvira of Spain, the American’s first-nine of 33 (the trio started on the 10th) was overshadowed by Elvira’s six-under par 31. Then, despite shooting three-under par over the next nine holes, Reed was again second-best to MacIntyre’s 29 – six birdies and three pars.
“I feel like I played pretty solid,” said Reed with a smile. “Then all of a sudden a guy in the group shoots 31. And the other player shoots 29 on the back. The good news is we were able to feed off each other. When you see good golf shots and putts being made, it makes it a little easier to keep the birdies going.”
For the record (and Tiger’s information) — and using the inexact method of matching cards — MacIntyre would have “defeated” Reed by two holes. But Reed saw off Elvira one up after being two down at the turn. Not a bad day at all.