Patrick Reed left the Ryder Cup with his “Captain America” moniker shattered.
Not only did Reed struggle in team play with Tiger Woods, before finishing 1-2 overall, he set off a media conflagration by telling the New York Times that he was “blindsided” by not being paired with long-time playing partner Jordan Spieth.
Reed further drove a wedge between himself and his American teammates by adding that they were split at Spieth’s request while slamming captain Jim Furyk not allowing him to play during the two fourball sessions.
Furyk for his part, said all the players knew about the pairings in advance.
Not a good look for the cantankerous-at-times Reed. But for him, “bad looks” are pretty much the norm. And that’s by design. This year, Reed transformed all that the negativity and bad press that usually surrounds him into a green jacket at Augusta.
But his game had been lacking of late. And he hasn’t played since the Ryder Cup. He needed something to remind those who are still peeved over what did and did not happen at Le Golf National that his golf game is pretty good.
Reed did that in the first round of the PGA Tour WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai Thursday. He subdued the par-72, 7,261-yard Sheshan International Golf Club course with an 8-under 64 that featured four birdies on the front nine, four on the back nine, and no bogeys.
“I just took off a couple days and from that point my coach and I have been out there fine tuning everything. Just trying to set goals to finish the year off right,” Reed said of his downtime since leaving Le Golf National.
The course was buffeted by stiff winds all day, a fitting metaphor for Reed of late.
Here, in this setting, he was able to find calm and regain some surety in his play.
“You can attack this golf course if you’re playing from the short grass. I feel like I’ve done a lot of really good work, especially with the driver and 3-wood. The driver was under full control today and I was able to hit a lot of fairways. Because of that, I was able to hit a lot of greens,” Reed said.
While others battled and failed amid the windy conditions, Reed turned the turbulence into his advantage and kept his swing under control.
“The wind helped me obviously. When the wind starts blowing like it was today, I mean, it was pumping out there. It was blowing a 13, 14, with gusts up to probably two to two and a half clubs. Because of that, how well you have to hit the ball around this golf course, not just off the tee but iron shots, it makes it very challenging mentally to stay in it,” Reed said. “My ball-striking (was the key). I was hitting the ball really solid. I was hitting irons where I was looking, and I was able to control, it not only directional-wise, but also trajectories and what kind of heights I wanted to hit. You know, I felt like that was key because when it’s windy like that, you have to have full control over it and I was able to do that.”
If Reed can maintain that same control moving forward, 2019 will be a pretty good year.