We’re all the heroes of our own story. Everyone believes they stand at the mountaintop of virtue and anyone opposing them is in the wrong, no matter whether they’re Alabama fans, Patriots fans, or Patrick Reed.
Yes, Patrick Reed, the American-hero-turned-spiteful-villain of the Ryder Cup, the defending Masters champion who can’t get a good seat at a ballgame, has barreled back into the golf spotlight. He might not be a welcome sight to many golf fans — and players, for that matter — but he’s a desperately needed force in a game all too willing to settle into contented self-satisfaction.
Reed continues to stoke Ryder Cup flames
Speaking to the New York Post at the start of Tiger Woods’ small-field Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Reed doubled down on his September criticism of his teammates and captain Jim Furyk. Reed and Jordan Spieth had enjoyed a successful Ryder Cup partnership run up until this year, when Furyk split them up and paired Reed with Woods and Spieth with Justin Thomas. Reed and Woods flailed, and to Reed’s mind, Furyk’s decision — which Reed hinted was prompted by Spieth — was a tremendous mistake.
“You had to look at the breakdown of all the guys on the team and what was best for the entire team, not just one or two individuals,” Reed said “So you split up Jordan and I, right? Then you split up Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, who have played great golf together … groupings that had been proven successful in that format. So it was about the team, not one or two individuals.’’
Clearly, Reed remains sore about how it all turned out, not ready to make nice for the sake of propriety or to satisfy those “one or two individuals” (who are, almost certainly, Spieth and Thomas). And I say: yes. Yes to all of this, and more.
Golf needs more pure, unvarnished, college football rivalry-style hate. We’ve seen what this game looks like when two alleged “rivals” go head to head with each other, seen it as recently as last weekend when Woods and Phil Mickelson wandered around a Las Vegas course together in search of $9 million. Golf needs the kind of spark Reed puts into a field, the charge that comes from wanting to beat someone not just physically on the course, but spiritually as well.
Golf purists will sniff that this kind of gossipy piffle is unworthy of the game. And, as usual, golf purists will miss the fairway by half a mile. Golf, at its heart, is a sport of personalities. We want to see whether the Golden Child or the Best Never To Win A Major or the Fading Icon will win, we want to see how the Dour Genius or the Jacked Bro or the Very Nice Boy will handle a six-foot putt with immortality on the line.
And into this mass of personalities wades Reed with that uniquely present-day-American mixture of boundless arrogance and self-declared victimhood, a come-at-me-bro aura that begs to be targeted … which, in turn, only feeds into Reed’s sense that the entire world is against him.
Witness, for instance, the moment earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when Reed didn’t get a free drop in what he believed was an obstructed location. “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth,” he said in the midst of failing to persuade a rules official.
Or, more recently, see Reed’s stance comparing his behind-the-curtain revelations after the 2018 Ryder Cup loss to Mickelson’s scorching of Tom Watson after the 2014 loss. “He did it and got praised,’’ Reed said. “I did it and got destroyed. It all depends on who the person is, obviously.”
Well, sort of. As the Post’s Mark Cannizzaro correctly notes, the difference here is that Mickelson was trying to spur change going forward, while Reed was trying to make excuses and distance himself from the wreckage behind him.
What if Patrick Reed is right?
But here’s the thing: what if Reed isn’t entirely in the wrong? He’s calling out what he sees as a cliquey system, and anyone who’s spent more than 15 seconds at a golf club knows what those kinds of cliques look like. Golf galleries, golf broadcasts, golf media — we all fawn over Spieth and Justin Thomas, because they’re sharp, witty cats who know how to play the game in front of a mic. That caste system frustrates three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who tends to seethe in silence, and Reed, who … does not.
For Reed, one scene in particular still sticks with me. It came on the 18th green at Augusta, when he clinched that Masters seven months ago. And the gallery’s reaction was so subdued it almost seemed like he was putting for a 20th-place finish, not for a green jacket. The love for recent winners like Spieth, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson resonated for miles; Reed only warranted a brief clap as the patrons packed up their folding chairs. That’s not fair, but that’s the way it is right now in golf’s hierarchy … and you can bet that Reed noticed the slight and added it to his mental list.
Granted, Reed’s no victim. People who’ve won majors and earned millions can complain about unfair treatment, sure, but nobody’s really going to listen. (Indeed, one of Reed’s teammates called him “full of s—t” and noted that “he begged to play with Tiger.”) And his final assessment of the Ryder Cup and his place on the team is telling. Asked if he’s still “Captain America,” Reed responded, “I’m still 3-0 in singles.”
Bingo. Reed’s looking at golf through a prism of self. It doesn’t make him the best team player, not by a long shot, but it makes him an ideal golf antagonist, someone who can challenge the game’s best both on the course and in their heads. Reed’s got the game to win multiple majors, and he’s got the attitude to get up under the skin of golf’s elite. There’s nothing wrong with either of those scenarios.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.” data-reactid=”36″>Does that make him a villain? Depends on how you look at it.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.