Golf never forgets — and it rarely forgives.
Ask Patrick Reed.
The 31-year-old Texan has long been the subject of allegations and accusations of impropriety on and off the golf course, and it’s now been brought to light in a new book, “The Cup They Couldn’t Lose,”Shane Ryan (Hachette).
Detailing the long history of the Ryder Cup, Ryan explains how 2020 US captain Steve Stricker managed to galvanize a team so often incapable of beating their European counterparts — and how he solved the perennial problem of Patrick Reed.
Ryan’s relationship with Reed dates back to 2015, when he first wrote about his controversial college career. Reed enrolled at Georgia in 2008, but was kicked from the golf team after he was found guilty of two alcohol violations. He was also arrested and sentenced to community service for underage drinking, and possession of a fake identification.
That wasn’t all.
The locker room was missing items including a watch and a putter. Teammates suspected Reed had taken them. He also turned up the next day with a large sum of cash.
Reed denied the accusations.
His performance on the course was equally divisive. Reed missed his ball in the rough during one qualifying round. However, when they found it, it was miraculously closer to the fairway. Reed was convinced he was cheating and was challenged by his teammates, who denied any wrongdoing.
Reed was in a similar situation at Augusta State. He was accused of slashing scorecards. His teammates voted to kick Reed off the team. However, his coach reduced the sanction by allowing him to serve a two-match suspension.
Reed led Augusta in two national titles, including the second in a battle with Georgia. Reed faced Harris English, his former teammate in the final game of Reed’s collegiate career. According to Ryan, Reed’s Augusta State teammates actually wished English luck before the game. Still, “He had none,” writes Ryan. “Reed won in a match that one onlooker called ‘the death of karma’.”
Kevin Kisner, a PGA Tour golfer who is also a University of Georgia alumnus, believes Reed was the only person he could have had time for. “I don’t know that they’d piss on him if he was on fire,”He said it in the book.
Reed’s professional career was also dogged by controversy. Although one of the standout players at the 2016 Ryder Cup — where the US won 17-11 at Hazeltine National, Chaska, Minn. — by the time a French event took place at Le Golf National in September 2018, near Paris, it seemed he was persona non grata.
He earned the nickname “The Spy” despite forming a successful partnership at Hazeltine with Jordan Spieth. “Captain America,”2018 captain Jim Furyk dissolved the pair after Reed asked not to play. Furyk preferred to team with Justin Thomas.
Reed was accommodated by other US captains. In 2019, Tiger Woods selected him for the Presidents Cup match against the International team captained by South Africa’s Ernie Els in Melbourne, Australia, but, as Ryan writes, “to take someone like Reed for a team event is to take a big risk – to balance his incredible skill at match play with the decent chance that he could become a fully malignant clubhouse cancer.”
Brandel Chamblee a golf analyst suggested that Woods had chosen Reed to win the match. “made a deal with the devil.”
He was right.
Reed was spotted at the Hero World Classic in Bahamas before the Presidents Cup trying to improve the ball’s lie, not once, but twice. Reed claimed that the angle of the TV cameras made it look worse, but he was still penalized with two strokes. Ryan writes: “Making a deal with the devil is useful only if the devil can give you something important in exchange, and everyone was watching, especially [assistant captain] Steve Stricker.”
Even the International team was weighed in. “To give a bit of a bulls–t response like the camera angle, that’s pretty up there,” said Australia’s Cameron Smith. “I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him but everyone next week.”
Reed was brutally abused at every turn by the crowd. Even armed police were assigned to walk alongside him on the course. It was so vicious that Reed’s caddie, Kessler Karain, lashed out at one fan. “I had had enough . . . guy was about 3 feet from Patrick and said ‘You f–king suck’. I got off the cart and shoved him,”Karain speaks in the book.
While the US edged the match 16-14, Stricker had seen at first hand how Reed’s mere presence had so nearly derailed the team’s chances — and he wasn’t going to risk that at the Ryder Cup.
The US team was free from the troubles that followed Reed around like an animal, and soared to a record victory over Europe, winning 19-9. Petty feuds were forgotten, egos were left at the locker room door, and any chance for disruption was eliminated.
The US players were not a group of 12 millionaire golfers, but a cohesive team. Ryan wrote that it was a team. “what happens when American power is no longer stifled by mismanagement, but elevated and ultimately unleashed by a superb captaincy.”
But, even more important, “he had learned which personalities fit best in the team room.”
And that, clearly, didn’t mean Patrick Reed.
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