CHASKA, Minn. — Charged with leading out the U.S. forces in the crucial singles session against Europe’s most powerful weapon on the final day of the Ryder Cup, pudgy and powerful Patrick Reed emotionally and forcefully conquered his mission.
With full-throttled roars, double-armed fist bumps and high quality golf, Reed was a raging bull as he broke Rory McIlroy, the heart and soul of the opposition. After a scintillating front nine where the two combined for seven birdies and an eagle in a four-hole stretch that jarred the Richter scale, Reed pounced with a birdie on the 12th and held on for a 1-up victory that inspired the team and crept the Americans that much closer to their first victory since 2008. And his red, white and blue mates, seeing their main man taking down Europe’s finest, followed suit en route to a rousing 17-11 triumph Sunday at sunny Hazeltine National, where a mass 55,000 strong bellowed in delight.
The last man in, captain’s pick and Ryder Cup rookie Ryan Moore, clinched the victory by defeating Lee Westwood, 1 up, to end the USA’s two-year quest for the 17-inch, 4-pound, 9-carat gold Ryder Cup. “I'm just proud of these guys,” said captain Davis Love III, who earned redemption from his loss in the same role in 2012 when the U.S. squandered a 10-6 lead on the final day. “They had a lot of pressure on them for the last two years. I'm just proud the way every one of them played. It was a great team effort. I've never seen a team come together like a family like this.”
The U.S. lived up to one of its slogans, 12 Strong, as every player earned at least one point this week. In a stellar display of golf throughout the day, the U.S. also got wins in singles from Rickie Fowler, who won his first singles match in the Ryder Cup, 1 up, against Olympic gold medalist and European stalwart Justin Rose; Brandt Snedeker, who was 3-0 on the week; U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson; rookie Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson.
The Americans, who had lost the last three and six of the last seven Ryder Cups, ended the misery by winning the singles session, 7½-4½. Europe, trailing by three heading into Sunday, did not go quietly into the night. It stacked the deck early with four of its best players and there was a time when only one red flag was on the board. Observers were getting nervous, thinking back to the 2012 Miracle at Medinah, when Europe produced the largest comeback by a visiting team in Ryder Cup history.
But there were no heroics at Hazeltine this time as Henrik Stenson and Thomas Pieters, a rookie and future star who went 4-1, were the only two wins in the first four matches. Europe was left to play five of their six rookies in the last seven matches, with four of them losing.
“At the end of the day, the American guys played better than we did,’ Europe captain Darren Clarke said. “We're obviously bitterly disappointed, but credit to Davis and his team for the performance of the day.” Reed delivered the performance of the week for the U.S. He was a force from the get-go, so much so that Jordan Spieth called him Captain America, Love said he was born to the play the Ryder Cup, McIlroy said he was “immense this week,” and the fans chanted “M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P.”
Reed teamed with Spieth to win two and halve another in four team matches, including a critical 2-and-1 win against Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose in the anchor match Saturday. The two also kick-started things with a win Friday morning, when the Americans raced to a 4-0 lead.
He burnished his growing reputation against McIlroy, starting with a 20-footer on the first to halve the hole. He eagled the par-4 fifth with a 303-yard drive and 8-foot putt, then added two more birdies before the best moment of the match came about on the eighth. McIlroy dropped a bomb for birdie and went ballistic, screaming “I can’t hear you,” to the crowd and cupping his ear to encourage more noise. But then Reed drained his 20-footer to halve the hole and turned to McIlroy waving a finger to say ‘Hold on.’ The two laughed at the wonder of it all and gave each other fist bumps and pats on the back.
Reed, his voice understandably hoarse from a week’s worth of roars, gave all credit to the team, saying he and the team wholeheartedly bought into the mocked Task Force that developed a blueprint of ownership and inclusion.
“Anytime I can wear the red, white and blue, it gets me going,” Reed said. “And we were a team right away. We are a family. We all believed in the same thing, and that was to just go out and do your job with one goal. We all came together, the 12 of us, the vice captains, the caddies, Captain Love. There were a lot of voices, but we all became one. We did this as a team.”