Column: Ryder Cup’s ‘Captain America’ loses his superpowers
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — Forget Captain America. Because, as wits on social media were quick to point out, Patrick Reed spent so much time in the water on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup that a better nickname for him would be Aquaman.
The lesson brutally delivered to the Masters champion by Le Golf National’s unforgiving Albatross course is that Reed needs to drop the superhero nickname, at least until he grows superpowers to go with it.
The beating that Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood delivered to Reed and partner Tiger Woods in fourballs on Saturday morning was so comprehensive that Molinari’s elder brother couldn’t help but give Reed a roasting.
“Captain America must have no passport! No sights of him in Paris!” Edoardo Molinari, also a golfer, tweeted.
Reed went off the boil even before he got to France. His Masters victory in April and fourth place at the U.S. Open in June were followed by three ho-hum months.
Still, Reed wasn’t the only player struggling before the Ryder Cup. Most notably, 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia had a terrible run of missed cuts and forgettable results before Europe captain Thomas Bjorn picked the Spaniard to join his team because he knew the honor of playing again for the yellow-starred blue flag would get Garcia’s juices flowing.
Garcia repaid that trust by winning both of his opening matches, in foursomes on Friday afternoon with Alex Noren and in fourballs on Saturday morning with Rory McIlroy.
Reed, on the other hand, has yet to rise to the occasion. Two losses in fourballs, both partnered with Woods, have punctured the “Captain America” aura earned from high-energy performances in 2014 and 2016 where Reed won six of nine matches and lost just once.
Given how Woods practically had to carry Reed around Le Golf National on Saturday, it wasn’t inappropriate when a cheeky spectator on No. 11 yelled out, “How’s your back, Tiger?”
Reed was in the rough so often he should have packed a lawnmower in his golf bag. And he found water on Nos. 3, 13 and finally 15. There, Woods mercifully put the match out of its misery by missing a must-make putt. That sealed a 4-and-3 victory for the European super duo of Molinari and Fleetwood, who have won all four of their matches.
The chemistry between Woods and Reed, such as it is, didn’t seem to be the problem. After Reed thumped his tee-shot into ankle-high rough on No. 4 and then took his frustration out on a drain cover, whacking it with his driver, Woods came over to pat his teammate on the back.
So rarely did Woods and Reed both find the fairway together — the number of times could be counted on one hand — that they had fewer opportunities than Molinari and Fleetwood to be all buddy-buddy and fewer reasons to celebrate together.
Reed tried to keep his spirits up. Back in rough off the fairway on No. 6, he pulled up a clump of grass, throwing some of it into the air to test the stiffness of the breeze and tossing the remainder in the face of his caddie. Reed, at least, thought himself funny, breaking into a grin.
But he then turned the air blue when his tee-shot sheered right into reeds on No. 13.
The only whiff of anything Captain America-like was when Reed sank an 8-foot putt on No. 9, his only birdie of the day. When the crowd booed that only silver lining in Reed’s morning of dark clouds, he responded by playing the pantomime villain, with a finger in front of his lips: Shush!
At the end, Woods threw an arm over Reed’s shoulder and hugged him tight. The 14-time major winner back from four back surgeries knows all about fighting another day. Reed has a chance of redemption Sunday in singles, where he was unbeaten in 2014 and 2016.
But Captain America? Well, he’s done.