US and European Ryder Cup players have already started exchanging locker room barbs, said Masters champion Patrick Reed, who expects “fireworks” when the teams meet next month in France.
“There’s some kind of bantering going back and forth, but nothing crazy yet,” Reed said Wednesday. “We have some tricks up our sleeves later down the road to start getting the spirit going on both teams.”
With 15 Americans and 11 Europeans in the world rankings top 25, the stage is set for one of the all-time best showdowns on September 28-30 at Le Golf National near Paris.
“Both teams are so strong that there’s going to be a lot of fireworks,” Reed said.
“They have such a deep team this year, as do we, that it’s just going to come down to execution – who’s playing the best golf and who’s able to go out and play as a unit.”
Reed earned the nickname “Captain America” from his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles in 2014, when antics such as cupping his hand to his ear and pumping his fists endeared him to European fans.
“When you have that and you feel like you’re the away team and that everyone is trying to root against you, it seems to bring it out in me,” Reed said.
“I love kind of going back in against enemy lines and going out and playing against them. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get over there and get playing.”
Just don’t expect Reed to understand any French remarks tossed his way.
“No, but usually you can tell if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Reed said. “You can tell by how everyone else reacts to what someone says, whether it’s a good thing, whether they’re cheering for you or against you.
“Every time I’ve gone overseas and played, fans have been unbelievable. They’ve been very respectful. They’ve been awesome. I’ve really enjoyed going over there and playing, and I feel like it’s going to be the same way when I go to France.
“They want to see the European team play to their best potential as well as the US team because they want to see a battle. Hopefully we can go out there and give it to them.”
Reed hopes to claim his second major title at this week’s PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Bellerive Country Club.
The 28-year-old Texan could join Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Jack Burke Jr as the only players to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year.
PGA second aided Masters win
Reed credits his runner-up finish to Justin Thomas at last year’s PGA with helping his major breakthrough for a green jacket eight months later.
“Before the PGA last year, I tried so hard to play so well and tried to win at a major, that I almost was pushing myself too hard to get something done,” Reed said.
He analyzed his efforts and decided, “My thought process hasn’t been right in these majors. I need to go into it thinking a different way. And I carried that over into Augusta, just playing golf and having fun and not try so hard. Just go out and play.”
Reed, ranked 12th, was to tee off at 2:15pm on Thursday alongside compatriot Brooks Koepka, a two-time US Open champion, and British Open winner Francesco Molinari of Italy.
After Reed won his first WGC title in 2014, he famously declared he considered himself a top-five player in the world. A victory this weekend would lift him into the top five for the first time.