Golf - Patrick Reed Show lights up Hazeltine
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - A fired-up Patrick Reed was 'Captain America' for the United States at the Ryder Cup on Saturday, raising the decibel level at a highly charged Hazeltine National with a brilliant display of golf.
In partnership with Jordan Spieth, Reed almost single-handedly took down Europe's powerhouse combination of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson as the Americans ended a remarkable fourballs encounter of stunning quality with a 2 and 1 victory.
Evoking images of the passion and flair shown by European Ryder Cup standout Seve Ballesteros, Reed recorded six birdies and an eagle on his own ball to energise some of the biggest galleries ever seen at the biennial team competition.
As he walked down the 16th fairway, having hit an exquisite five-wood from a downslope lie to 30 feet for a chance at another eagle, the stands erupted with thunderous cheers of "USA, USA, USA", followed by "Patrick Reed, Patrick Reed."
Several fans yelled out: "MVP, MVP, MVP", before another shouted: "Do you want to date my daughter?"
Both Reed and Spieth later said they had never seen such huge crowds packed around one hole, and the deafening applause that thundered across Hazeltine was, for the most part, in tribute to Reed's inspiring play on a sun-kissed afternoon.
"It was really, really fun to be a part of," Spieth said. "I know he (Reed) has that in him. We've all seen it before. He's 'Captain America' for us.
"What a front nine he had with five birdies and an eagle on his own, and then on the back nine he came through on 14, 15, with kind of what really closed the match.
"He really birdied 16 as well (Stenson won that hole with a chip-in eagle), and probably would have birdied 17 if he had to."
Reed, who produced a moment of magic with his eagle at the sixth where his approach shot landed 15 feet beyond the flag before spinning back into the cup, kept delivering for the U.S. when needed.
While Olympic champion Rose and U.S. Open winner Stenson carded six birdies and an eagle between them, burly Texan Reed ensured that the U.S. never trailed after they edged 1-up after the sixth.
Reed hit his approach to within three feet at the seventh to set up a birdie, then followed with a laser-like tee shot to four feet at the short eighth, where he let out a thunderous "Come on" after sinking the putt and pumping his fists.
Further timely Reed birdies came after the turn to quell a fightback by the European duo as he drained 10-footers on 14 and 15, the last of them prompting a congratulatory pat on the back from U.S. vice-captain Tiger Woods.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to Patrick Reed today, he played amazing golf," Rose told Reuters. "I think he beat us single-handedly, I really do.
"He was incredible. He's definitely loving the vibe out here, and so he should. He has a lot of energy and he's fanning the fire with the fans, and 90 percent of that is a lot of fun."
(Editing by Andrew Both)