Reed ready to let emotions fly in World Match Play
ASH, England (AP) — With his fist-pumping, spiky exchanges with spectators and brilliant play on the course, Patrick Reed was the standout American player in every sense in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Two weeks on, Reed is back on British soil and ready to let his emotions fly again in the 16-man World Match Play Championship, which starts Wednesday at The London Golf Club.
“Am I going to get as rowdy as I did at the Ryder Cup? Probably not,” Reed said Tuesday.
“But playing great golf always gets me excited, no matter what. Whether I’m back home or playing with my buddies or whether I’m on the PGA Tour or I’m over here, if I’m making birdies and playing well, there’s going be to fistpumps and excitement.”
Reed, who scored a team-high 3 1/2 points in the United States’ loss to Europe last month, received an invitation for the 50th anniversary edition of the World Match Play and his presence — so soon after his exploits at the Ryder Cup — perks up a tournament that has lost some of its luster in recent years.
Five members of the Europe’s victorious team in Scotland are playing, including defending champion Graeme McDowell and world No. 5 Henrik Stenson, who lost to Reed in the singles at the Ryder Cup.
“He’s a little controversial but he backs it up,” McDowell said of Reed. “It’s exciting for golf.”
Reed was already a target of polite abuse by the Gleneagles galleries when he riled spectators by placing his finger to his lips and giving the hush sign after rolling in a birdie on the final day. By whirring his arms and shouting “Come on, Come on,” Reed was widely viewed as the American version of Ian Poulter — the heartbeat of Europe’s successful teams in recent Ryder Cups.
“I got 45 emails when I got home,” Reed recalled. “Only five were from Americans, all the others were European and every one of them was positive. They absolutely loved it.”
Reed is the only American in a field that contains 13 different nationalities and nine of the world’s top 50. Stenson, though, is the highest-ranked player in the tournament and the World Match Play is not held in the same esteem as it was when Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer were winning it in the 1960s.
“Yes, we are missing a few headliners like the Rorys (Rory McIlroy) and the Westwoods (Lee Westwood) and whatever, the top, top real echelon of the game,” McDowell said. “But it’s a very solid field.”
McDowell is a strong performer in the match-play format, which he played regularly as an amateur in Ireland. He lost to Nicolas Colsaerts in the World Match Play final in Spain in 2012 and beat Thongchai Jaidee in the 2013 final in Bulgaria.
McDowell won three points from three matches at Gleneagles.
“It’s nice to not have to switch gears from my couple of weeks off from a match-play frame of mind,” McDowell said. “I was able to keep the match play switch flicked on ... and am looking forward to coming in this week and continue where I left off at Gleneagles.”
There are four groups containing four players, who play each other once from Wednesday to Friday. The top two qualify automatically for Saturday’s quarterfinals.
The winner collects 650,000 euros ($820,000).