Why Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed would make great Ryder Cup pairing

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Why Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed would make great Ryder Cup pairing

2018 Ryder Cup

Why Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed would make great Ryder Cup pairing

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods can’t play with everyone this week at the Ryder Cup.

He has 11 teammates and five matches at most so the math doesn’t check out, plus there are probably a few who make more sense as foursomes and four-ball partners.

Most of the younger Americans want to play with Woods because they grew up watching him and they’ve come to know him as sort of a golf-crazed older brother who likes to crack jokes and have a good time. Besides that, Woods just won the Tour Championship and is swinging great and thus a desirable partner for anyone.

Pre-match speculation has included a lot of names, but the best fit might be a guy who hasn’t often come up in the discussion – Patrick Reed.

Woods and Reed played nine holes together Wednesday at Le Golf National, practicing alternate shot against the duo of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Woods and Reed also played together on Tuesday, and it looks like there’s a chance Spieth and Reed go their separate ways this week in France.

Bryson DeChambeau was assumed to be Woods’ go-to partner. Is it more hype than substance? They played quite a few practice rounds together during the year and Woods has taken DeChambeau under his wing, but we don’t know if Furyk ever considered it the best fit. Both players were asked about it a lot and it just became the running narrative.

They are definitely friendly and Woods admires DeChambeau’s work ethic, but that alone doesn’t make a great pairing.

As far as personalities go, Reed and Woods are both ruthless competitors with icy demeanors. Reed isn’t trying to win any popularity contests out here and, like Woods in his prime, seems to thrive as a lone wolf on Tour.

Together they’d create the most intimidating combo the Americans can offer, ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Goat’ taking on all comers at Le Golf National.

Statistically they each rank near the bottom of the Tour in driving accuracy, but Woods completely turned that around in the playoffs and this is a second-shot golf course with a lot of irons and fairway woods off the tee. Both rank inside the top 11 in strokes gained around the green and have short games that would complement one another.

As for breaking up the Reed-Spieth duo, it’s no secret that they aren’t best friends off the course. They could always team up for a match or two but wouldn’t have to play the entire week together. Spieth and Thomas pairing could be a good alternative, Spieth serving as a calming influence for Thomas in his Ryder cup debut and Thomas lifting Spieth after what’s been a relatively down year.

“We know each other’s games well enough that you almost have another caddie if you need it,” Thomas said Wednesday, when asked about potentially teaming up with Spieth. “It’s like, say he hits first and he hits a 7 iron and it’s a little short. He can look at me and say, ‘It’s a perfect 7 iron (for you).’ He knows that. That may be something that doesn’t seem like a bit deal to others, but it’s a pretty big deal in the grand scheme of things.”

As for Woods and Reed, there’s some significant experience there as well. They’ve played nine rounds together on Tour and Reed has held strong, never shooting worse than 1-over par. Woods thrived their last time out in Round 3 of the Memorial Tournament, when he shot 4-under 68. And there’s already a well-documented example of Woods knowing exactly the right thing to say to Reed when it matters most.

Reed was way too fired up on the driving range ahead of his Sunday singles match with Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine, and then-vice captain Woods took notice.

“He’s watching me warm up and he’s just like, ‘He needs to calm down. He needs to chill out,’” Reed said. “I was hitting the ball sideways.”

Woods called him over and told him a dirty joke. Reed calmed down a bit and let the lion out of the cage mid-round, beating McIlroy in an epic battle.

Those things matter. Reed is a different cat and every coach knows you can’t treat all players the same. You need to know which buttons to push at the right time, and Woods did exactly that.

We still don’t know how many matches Woods is set to play, and the biggest key for him this week will be adjusting to the speed of the greens. He’s always liked faster surfaces and the greens at East Lake were slicker than any he’d seen since Shinnecock. Le Golf National’s greens are slow by comparison and he’s still adjusting to the pace.

It’s also been a long season and Woods didn’t train like he was going to play 17 tournaments. That makes what he did at East Lake even more impressive, but it’s something to consider this week.

“From a selfish standpoint I don’t know if he should go five, cause it’s been a long year and that’s a lot of golf,” caddie Joe LaCava said. “Gotta be careful in that respect, but we’ll see how it goes.”

That goes for the pairings as well. Furyk entered with a rough game plan and everyone has a good idea what to expect for the pairings. But nothing is set in stone yet, and players will give more feedback before Furyk announces the first-day pairings during Thursday’s opening ceremony.

This is a really talented squad with any number of tempting combinations, but Woods-Reed is a juicy one that would rile up the European fan base. It’s also one that makes a lot of sense.

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