Patrick Reed ready to play U.S. hero, Euro villain once again at Ryder Cup

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Patrick Reed ready to play U.S. hero, Euro villain once again at Ryder Cup

2018 Ryder Cup

Patrick Reed ready to play U.S. hero, Euro villain once again at Ryder Cup

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The man they love to hate — Patrick Reed — is primed to be the subject of spectator ire when the 42nd Ryder Cup commences Friday at Le Golf National.

And the 2018 Masters champion wouldn’t have it any other way.

Captain America was in full chirp Tuesday. The testy 28-year-old Texan expressed a healthy respect for the European fans, but clearly can’t wait to mix it up with them. He won’t have to hold on for long. The first tee here is flanked by a grandstand that holds nearly 7,000.

“Why only 7?” Reed asked, smirking. “Couldn’t you get more? The first tee is going to be just so much fun. You know, I can’t wait to hear all the little cheers and just little quirky things that they can do and say, because it’s always fun coming overseas and hearing all the little playful jabs and chants that they have going on.”

European fans are expected to flock to this tight track just outside Paris and bring their A-games when it comes to baiting. Reed will be ready.

“There’s really nothing to really get underneath my skin, that’s for sure,” Reed said. “In 2014, with how the fans were on the first tee, just the bantering back and forth and the chants, I thought were very clever and very fun, because they know that line of respect — where that line of respect happens, and they always are above that line. They never actually cross it and get disrespectful.”

Reed has earned much appreciation in these match-play battles. Four years ago as a rookie at Gleneagles he starred for the red, white and blue, collecting 3.5 points in four matches. His epic, fist-pumping singles match victory over Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine in 2016 only added to the legend, as he picked up another 3.5 points. He’s 3-1-0 in four-balls, 1-0-2 in foursomes and 2-0 in singles.

Many of those wins came alongside Jordan Spieth. The duo did not play together in a practice round Tuesday, fueling speculation that they would be split. U.S. captain Jim Furyk said that could be a flawed assumption.

“Today is really about trying to learn the golf course and hit some solid golf shots. There may be some pairings out there and there’s some groups there isn’t,” Furyk said. “Just want them concentrating on their own game right now.”

Reed hasn’t shown his best form of late. The world’s 15th-ranked player missed the cut at the PGA Championship and wasn’t a factor during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, posting a T-25 at the Northern Trust, T-35 at the Dell Technologies, T-19 at the BMW Championship and T-28 at the Tour Championship.

That hasn’t shaken his swagger a lick.

A rejuvenated Reed could be a key to the U.S. ending its 25-year Ryder Cup drought on European soil. He finds plenty of motivation in that fact.

“I feel like it’s a huge one,” Reed said. “Because the young guys don’t want to have to go through what the old guys did every 25 years. We want to go out and play some really good golf and get more competitive overseas.

“It’s kind of one of those things that we want to go in and put our foot down and go out and play some good golf, kind of like we did in 2016, and try to win the Cup and take the Cup back home.”

Reed would relish a showdown with Ian Poulter, Europe’s most demonstrative and, to Americans, demonic player. Such a hero-villain billing would make for great theater on the banks of the Seine. Reed? He just wants to take care of No. 1.

“It would always be great playing Poults,” Reed said. “Kind of looking at the guys on the team, with how stacked each team is from top to bottom on the U.S. side and the European side, I’ll take any of them. All of the guys are playing some great golf. I’ve always been the type that I want to go up their best guy, and so on Sunday, I want to go up against who whoever is playing the best that week.

“I love that challenge and I love to go out and go out and play their guy. The first year it was (Henrik) Stenson. Last year it was Rory.”

This year, it’s about delivering a dismissive salute to the frothing French gallery. Who better to do so than the ranking U.S. officer of the Ryder Cup?

“This week, I’m definitely Captain America,” Reed said.

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