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  • Patrick Reed chose to pin his Ryder Cup struggles on being paired with Tiger Woods instead of Jordan Spieth, and his venting to the New York Times came off as absurd.
By Michael Rosenberg
October 03, 2018

Patrick Reed might be the first person in history who was disappointed by a trip to Paris, except for a few armies that tried to take over the place. The Ryder Cup was unkind to him. He had some rough days at the golf course last week, which puts him in good company with anybody who has ever picked up a club, and afterward, he vented to the New York Times. Basically, Reed said he should have been paired with Jordan Spieth, like he was in 2014 and 2016, but Spieth asked to play with Justin Thomas instead.

“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed told the Times. “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”

He also complained about playing just half of the team sessions, saying: “For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”

Reed was stuck playing with Tiger Woods instead. The New York Post quoted another U.S. Ryder Cup player saying “Blindsided, my ass. He begged to play with Tiger.” Even Reed acknowledges Woods was his second choice.

Let’s give Reed the benefit of the doubt here and say he begged to play with Tiger after being told he couldn’t play with Spieth. He may have his facts right, but his point is wrong. Laughably, absurdly wrong.

To recap:

1. Reed said in March that “my back still hurts” from carrying Spieth in the 2016 Ryder Cup.

2. Reed complained about playing with his second choice of partner, Woods.

3. Reed played really poorly the first two days in France. Well, it happens. But …

4. Reed complained that he sat out two matches.

From this, Reed concludes that only he, Patrick Reed, has the proper team spirit that you need at the Ryder Cup.

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This is plainly ridiculous. Reed is the one who is so convinced of his Ryder Cup greatness that he thinks the team’s strategy should have been constructed around him. He thinks his wishes are more important than anybody else’s. He is pinning his struggles on captain Jim Furyk, and on Spieth. You can’t claim other people were selfish when you’re the only one pointing a finger.

I don’t even really fault Reed for thinking this way. If you want to do something that is extremely unlikely—like win the Masters, or become a pop star, or write a bestselling novel—you need a level of self-belief that defies logic. You have to wake up knowing that hundreds of thousands of people want the same prize you want, and you have to think, “I’m going to be the one that grabs it.”

That self-belief has carried Reed a long way. The odds did not win. His self-belief won. So of course he showed up in Paris expecting to play better than he has in the last few months—and when he didn’t, he wasn’t going to question himself. It’s understandable that he would blame other factors, and the change in pairings from 2016 gave him an easy excuse.

The problem is in saying it. Reed just sounds silly. It’s bad enough to complain about sitting when you play well. And you can’t make the argument that you win as a team and lose as a team when you lose and immediately blame a teammate.

Also, by the way: Spieth was right. Spieth did not say, “Hey, Justin Thomas is my buddy. I’d like to play with him so we can talk about old times and plan our next fishing trip.” He felt that, despite his previous success with Reed, he would have his best chance of success by playing with Thomas.

The whole point of this current U.S. system is that players are supposed to share those feelings with the captain, and the captain is supposed to listen. That way, players are in their best possible frame of mind when they stand over the ball in the most pressurized environment in golf. Spieth has had a rough year, but he and Thomas went 3–1. Relative to how he was playing coming into each Ryder Cup, Spieth played better in 2018 than he did in 2016. Thomas played better than Spieth did. But I’m pretty sure Thomas won’t make any public cracks about his back hurting from carrying Spieth.

You can combine Reed’s comments with reports of a Brooks Koepka-Dustin Johnson scuffle and conclude that the U.S. was an internal mess, and that’s what cost the Americans the Ryder Cup. I don’t see it.

Whatever happened between Koepka and Johnson, they still played better together in Saturday afternoon’s foursomes than, for example, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter did. You didn’t hear any other Americans complain about the pairings or each other. I think they all tried, they all cared and they all respected Furyk. Koepka is probably miffed that he sat Friday afternoon, but none of Furyk’s decisions ultimately determined who won the Ryder Cup.

Remember: the U.S. was outscored in Sunday’s singles matches, 7 ½- 4 ½. It is virtually impossible for the Americans to win a Ryder Cup when they are outscored like that in singles. On the other hand, Patrick Reed did win his singles match, so this wasn’t his fault. Just ask him.

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