Golf is never forgotten – and rarely forgiven.
Just ask Patrick Reed.
The 31-year-old Texan has long been the subject of allegations and accusations of wrongdoing on and off the golf course, and has now been revealed in a new book, “The cup can not lose” by Shane Ryan (Hatchett).
Detailing the long history of the Ryder Cup, Ryan explains how 2020 US captain Steve Straker managed to motivate a team often unable to beat their European counterparts – and how he solved Patrick Reed’s perennial problem.
Ryan’s relationship with Reed dates back to 2015, when he first wrote about his controversial college career. In 2008, Reed attended the University of Georgia in Athens, but was expelled from the golf team for two alcohol violations. He was also arrested on charges of underage drinking, possession of a false identity card, providing community service and placing him on probation.
That wasn’t all.
When items including a watch, a racket and $400 were lost from the locker room, his colleagues suspected that Reed had taken them, especially since he showed up the next day with a large amount of cash.
Reed denied the accusations.
His performance on the course was also divisive. During one of the qualifying rounds, Reed hit his ball into the court but when they found it, it was, miraculously, closer to the fairway. Convinced that he was cheating, Reed was challenged by his teammates but denied any wrongdoing.
It was a similar story when Reed joined Augusta State. This time, he was accused of shaving kicks off his scorecards, and while his teammates voted to expel him from the team, his coach commuted the sentence to a two-game ban.
Reed led Augusta to two National titles, the second in a showdown with his old college, Georgia. In the last game of his collegiate career, Reed faced former teammate Harris English. According to Ryan, Reed’s teammates at Augusta State wished the English luck ahead of the game. However, Ryan wrote: “He had nothing.” Reid won a match that a spectator called the ‘Death of Karma’.
PGA Tour golfer and University of Georgia graduate Kevin Kessner believes none of his former teammates had any time with Reed. He says in the book: “I don’t know they would have pissed on him if it caught fire.”
The controversy also plagued Reed’s professional career. Although one of the standout players in the 2016 Ryder Cup – the US won 17-11 in Hazeltine National, Chaska, Minnesota. – By the time a French event was held at Le Golf National in September 2018, near Paris, it looked like I was Unwanted person.
Despite forming a successful partnership with Jordan Spieth at Hazeltine, and earning the nickname “Captain America”, Captain Jim Furyek broke off the pairing when Spieth asked not to play with Reed, preferring to join Justin Thomas.
Other American captains tried to shelter Red. In 2019, Tiger Woods selected him for the Presidents Cup match against the international team led by Ernie Els of South Africa in Melbourne, Australia, but, as Ryan wrote, “Taking someone like Reed for a team event is the big risk – to balance his incredible match-playing skill with the opportunity Decent that it could become a completely malignant cancer of the club.”
Meanwhile, golf analyst Brendel Chambley suggested that by choosing Reed, Woods had “made a deal with the devil”.
He was right.
At the Hero World Classic in the Bahamas before the Presidents Cup, Reed was seen trying to improve his lie-ball, not once but twice. Reid blamed the angle of the TV cameras for making her look worse than she was but he still got two lashes. As Ryan writes: “Make a deal with the devil only helps if the devil can give you something important in return, and everyone else is watching, especially [assistant captain] Steve Stryker.
Even the international team had its weight. “To give the bulls a bit of a response like the camera angle, that’s great there,” said Australian Cameron Smith. “I have no sympathy for anyone who cheats. I hope the crowd will give it to not just him but everyone else next week.”
And they did.
Red was brutally abused by the crowd at every turn. The armed police were assigned to walk him down the track. He was so fierce that Kaiser Karen, Reid’s pack, slammed a fan. “I had had enough… the guy was about 3 feet from Patrick and he said ‘You suck disgusting.’ I got off the wagon and pushed him,” Karen says in the book.
As the U.S. topped the game 16-14, Stryker saw firsthand how the mere presence of Reed nearly spoiled the team’s chances – and wouldn’t risk it in the Ryder Cup.
Free from the hassle that followed Red like a pup, the US team sped like never before, with a record-breaking European victory, winning 19-9. Small disagreements were forgotten, vanity was left at the locker room door and any chance of disturbance was eliminated.
Finally, the American players were a team, not just the tens of millions of golfers lumped together. As Ryan wrote, it showed “what happens when American power is not damped by mismanagement, but rather rises and ultimately unleashed by a great leader.”
But, most importantly, “he’s learned which characters are the best in the team room.”
Obviously, this does not mean Patrick Reed.