The two Sundays that define Patrick Reed’s career were as different as a primal scream and a golf clap.
On Oct. 2, 2016, Reed helped turn Hazeltine National into a mosh pit, waving his arms and cupping his ear while beating Rory McIlroy and leading the United States to its only Ryder Cup victory since 2008.
On April 8, 2018, Reed outplayed McIlroy in the final pairing and parred the last four holes to win the Masters for his first major championship.
At Hazeltine, Reed became Captain America, a player who elevated his game when playing for country and with countrymen.
At Augusta National, he became a more complex story, winning in the city where he spent part of a divisive college career, with his parents in town but not invited to the course.
At Hazeltine, Reed exhorted his teammates and the crowd. At the Masters, he spent the morning at the end of the practice range, speaking only to his caddie as other players socialized. Then he prevailed in front of “patrons” who seemed to favor McIlroy.
This week, Reed returned to Minnesota for the first time since the Ryder Cup to play in the 3M Open. Tuesday, he played the back nine of TPC Twin Cities during a practice round with Rory Sabbatini.
None of the emotions expressed Tuesday were complex. Fans treated Reed as a conquering hero as he signed dozens of autographs and traded fist-bumps with children.
“It’s awesome,” Reed said. “Feels amazing to be back. Great memories, obviously, from Minnesota and Hazeltine, and trying to feed off the awesome crowds, the awesome people and the awesome experience we had the last time we were up here.”
Reed might be the most interesting man in golf. In college, he angered teammates. In 2014, having yet to win a major, he described himself as a “top-five” player in the world.
At Hazeltine, he teamed with Jordan Spieth to spearhead the American victory, and when Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk broke up the pair in 2018, Reed guessed the decision reflected Spieth’s wishes and ripped Spieth and Furyk to the New York Times.
Reed is not a closed-mouthed, cap-tipping cliché many golfers pretend to be. He doesn’t hide his ambitions or emotions, and doesn’t seem to care if he’s universally popular.
Which makes him fascinating, especially if you were one of the tens of thousands who watched him spur beer sales at Hazeltine in 2016.
Asked his favorite memory from Hazeltine, Reed said: “Us winning? I mean, it was my first time playing on a Ryder Cup team that won. My first year, I felt like I played really well, but we were overseas and we ended up losing. So even though my record was good over there at Gleneagles [Scotland, in 2014], at the end of the day you want the team to win. It didn’t feel that great.
“To win our first Ryder Cup at Hazeltine was amazing, especially being the first one on home soil, and on top of it the way we did it and the way I played when I was playing against Rory. How we were going back and forth with each other but at the same time there’s a good friendship between us and we were having a good time doing it.
“So we were showing not just our patriotism for each player but also the camaraderie and respect we have for each other.”
Asked his current career goals, Reed spoke of putting himself in contention more often on Sunday afternoons, then said: “Win more golf tournaments. Of course, I want to win more majors. Ultimately, I would like to win the career grand slam.”
If he wins this week, Captain America will earn a subtitle: Mr. Minnesota.
“I was very excited to come back here,” he said. “Flying into the same airport, it was an awesome feeling to be back. Ever since the beginning of this week, being out here, the fans have been awesome and the people have been great and I look forward to getting started.”
Thursday, Reed will play in the first round of the inaugural 3M Open, but he’s not starting over. If Tuesday was an indication, Minnesotans remember.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org