Patrick Reed morphed into Captain America in the final round of the 2016 Ryder Cup, defeating Rory McIlroy in an epic match play duel. The victory captured the interest of the golf community and helped the United States defeat McIlroy’s European squad, 17-11.
But on the range that morning, Reed was as nervous as ever. And who wouldn’t be? You’re playing against one of the world’s top golfers in Sunday’s initial matchup, and you’re in front of a defying crowd at Hazeltine.
Author John Feinstein recently released his latest golf book, The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup, where he goes into detail about what Reed felt on the driving range that day.
“Really tight,” Reed told Feinstein. “I didn’t like the way I was hitting the ball, and I knew it was nerves. I was telling myself to calm down and just get ready to play, but it wasn’t working.”
Onto the range stepped Tiger Woods, with Big Cat staring down Reed as he watched the practice shots.
“I thought sure he was going to give me a pep talk, say something about my swing or about just relaxing and not trying too hard,” Reed said. “I walked over there. He had his arms folded. I waited. He looked really serious.”
Woods could’ve given Reed an instructional tip, but Tiger was well-aware what the young American felt, and knew he needed to loosen up.
“And then he told me a dirty joke.”
Of course he did.
“It was actually the perfect thing to do,” Reed said. “It just broke the tension. I went back to hitting balls, and all of a sudden, I was loose as could be. I was ready.”
Patrick Reed went on to upset McIlroy, 1 up, in what has been called the most electric contest in match play history. Overall, Reed held a 3-1-0 record at the 2016 Ryder Cup, tied with Brooks Koepka for the best United States record.