USA in Position to Break Ryder Cup Drought Thanks to Patrick Reed's Birdie Binge

Steve Elling@@EllingYellingSpecial to Bleacher ReportOctober 2, 2016

CHASKA, MN - OCTOBER 01:  Patrick Reed of the United States reacts on the 14th green during afternoon fourball matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 1, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

With an animated wave of a hand, Patrick Reed gestured toward the crowd of boisterous fans standing a few feet away, many of them singing songs or chanting his name.

He'd contested two fierce matches in the Ryder Cup on Saturday, and while the roars had finally begun to subside, there were times when it seemed as though all 45,000 on the property at Hazeltine National Golf Club were screaming in decibel-busting unison at his shots.

His ears practically ringing from the cacophony of noise, Reed tried to explain why, of all the places to play the most impressive golf of his career, it has happened this week with much of the sporting world watching with jaws dropped.

Answer: It's seemingly hardwired into his DNA.

"I mean, I was made for this kind of stuff," Reed told the Golf Channel. "Anytime I can get in front of a crowd, especially the Americans, and have the red, white and blue on, it just fuels me."

After years of watching favored American teams underachieve at the biggest event in golf, often losing in humiliating fashion, the animated 26-year-old from Texas appears to be the guy capable of taking the Yanks to their second Ryder Cup of the millennium.

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With a scintillating round in the second session of play on Saturday, Reed led the Americans to a 9.5 to 6.5 lead heading into Sunday singles play. The Americans, who haven't hoisted the Ryder Cup since 2008, need to secure five points from the 12 matches in singles play to reclaim the trophy.

Brash, with occasional flashes of downright cockiness, Reed dragged partner Jordan Spieth through the afternoon session with an uncanny display of shots that had the partisan crowd going ballistic. Whenever Europe seemed poised to make a run, Reed threw down another lightning bolt, finishing with seven birdies and an eagle over 17 holes of a 2 and 1 win.

Steve Elling @EllingYelling

Incredible. He birdied No. 16, too. https://t.co/wPRDO6dOqv

"Patrick pulled a Patrick this afternoon," Spieth told reporters.

He almost seemed unstoppable, for good reason. Early in the week, when assistant captain Tiger Woods told Reed he might be sent to the bench for a session, Reed flatly insisted otherwise.

"He's Captain America for us," Spieth told reporters. "Tiger told him he might be sitting one, and [Reed] said, 'You are not sitting me on any matches.'"

After losing sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the Americans held a one-point lead entering Saturday afternoon's play, partly because Spieth and Reed recklessly gave away a 4-up lead late in their match and settled for a halved point.

Reed, the world No. 8, redeemed himself almost immediately. He holed a shot from the fairway on the sixth hole for an eagle, part of a stretch in which he played four holes in five under to give the duo a lead they would not surrender. Given the pressure of the day, it was a stunning performance.

Trent @BarstoolTrent

Patrick Reed's eagle is so damn beautiful. Club twirl and all. #USA https://t.co/ZIvQg8dhmm

Said NBC's Johnny Miller on the broadcast, "Probably the best round of Patrick Reed's career."

At times, Reed screamed so loud, he turned as red as the stripes on the U.S. flag.

"I rode Patrick's back like no one has ever ridden a partner before," Spieth told Sky Sports (via BBC.com). "He is as good as anybody on the big stage and that was a lot of fun to be a part of."

Even an American who isn't a part of this squad took notice:

Hunter Mahan @HunterMahan

Reed just put that last match on his back and got a huge point for the US! One tough competitor!

Now comes the unpredictable part, at least for the Americans. The U.S. has held the lead heading into singles play only three times over the past three decades and finished 1-2 in those competitions. Europe has won five of the last seven iterations of Ryder singles, toothree of them by three points or more, which happens to match the current American lead.

Four years ago in the Chicago suburb Medinah, the Americans held a 10-6 lead heading into singles play and cratered in devastating fashion in what the Europeans dubbed the "Miracle at Medinah." Now they need a Hazeltine Hallelujah. World No. 11 Justin Rose told reporters:

We're one closer than we were at Medinah. It's going to be a monumental challenge tomorrow. We're going to put out our lineup, and we're going to look at each other man-to-man tomorrow. It's going to be eyeball to eyeball on the first tee, no partners, no friends out there on the golf course. Just go out and try to put a point on the board. That's everybody's mission.

The Europeans will lean on Justin Rose to get back into it on Sunday.
The Europeans will lean on Justin Rose to get back into it on Sunday.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

After being buried 4-0 in the opening session on Friday, Europe moved into a brief tie on Saturday afternoon before losing the last three matches on the course to lose any semblance of momentum. Now what?

"With the team that's here this week, I don't need to pick them up," European captain Darren Clarke told reporters. "They will know and understand they have a big challenge ahead of them tomorrow, but I'm sure they will be up for it. I won't have to do too much to lift them up tonight."

As for Reed, he's floating 10 feet off the ground already. Rose, alongside Henrik Stenson, has faced Reed three times this week already, finishing 1-2. Spieth and Reed, both playing in their second Ryder Cup, are 4-1-2 as a team overall.

"He just played incredible golf; he was inspired," Rose said. "He kind of punished us every time he had a wedge in his hands; he got it up-and-down. He was unbelievable."

Believe it, Spieth said.

"We are just getting started," he told Sky Sports.

He'd better hope so. After all, Reed leads off for the American lineup on Sunday morning against world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who is 3-1 this week and holds an unbeaten 2-0-1 mark in career singles.


Steve Elling covers golf for Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @EllingYelling.


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