U.S. Ryder Cup team member Patrick Reed knows the NBA, maybe or maybe not well enough to know Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West’s many nicknames include Mr. Clutch and Zeke from Cabin Creek, a nod to his West Virginia upbringing.
And then there’s also simply “The Logo,” the NBA’s old-school, trademarked image inspired by a photograph of West dribbling a ball long ago.
Just 26 and with his second Ryder Cup upcoming at Hazeltine National Golf Club, Reed already has his very own silhouette, a single image captured during a Sunday singles match against Europe’s Henrik Stenson at the last Ryder Cup.
On the seventh hole, Reed immediately followed Stenson’s made 10-foot birdie putt with a shorter one of his own, and Reed quickly put his index finger to his lips in a gesture intended to shush a Scottish audience ready to roar in 2014. Of course, it only provoked offended European fans to boo lustily.
In March, Reed wore a belt buckle sporting that silhouette in a tournament. He appears on Golf Digest’s September Ryder Cup issue posing the same way to the camera.
When the brash, patriotic young Texan did such a thing so spontaneously at Gleneagles in 2014, did he ever think …
“It’d be such a hit?” Reed asked.
Maybe more like a defining moment in a young career that already includes five PGA Tour victories in five years since he turned pro and now includes his second Ryder Cup appearance.
“No,” he said, “and I didn’t even know I was going to do it until I did.”
Oddly, it just might be the most memorable moment from 2014, when the Americans lost their third consecutive Ryder Cup but Reed stepped forth as something of golf’s bad boy.
Even though it was his first time, it was the right place, the right time, the right format for a guy who called himself a top-five player in the world when he was just 23 and who says there’s just something within him made for match play.
Reed was 6-0 in NCAA match play, and his verve led little Augusta University to consecutive national team titles. In its successful title defense in 2011, his team beat a mighty Georgia team for which Reed had played one season before he transferred.
In Scotland two years ago, Reed went 3-0-1 as a Ryder Cup rookie. In many ways, he was his team’s heart and soul despite his young age and limited experience in a spectacle that can overwhelm first-timers. He teamed with Jordan Spieth the first two days and finished as the Americans’ top point-getter after he beat Stenson 1-up in Sunday singles.
“I’ve always just loved match play, and I’ve always just seemed to do it pretty well,” Reed said. “I loved playing team sports. It’s so different because with golf you don’t play on a team. Anyone can learn match play. It’s golf. If you’re playing better than the guy you’re playing, you only have to beat one person. You don’t have to beat 150 guys.”
A member of last year’s winning Presidents Cup team, Reed said he also loves playing for his country. That should be no surprise from a man who wore a stars-and-stripes tie at the New York Stock Exchange in August and carries a tattered yardage-book cover with the same motif in his back pocket during his rounds.
His individual success at Gleneagles didn’t surprise either American star Phil Mickelson or 2016 U.S. captain Davis Love III.
“Phil kind of predicted Patrick would be a star of the team,” Love said. “He has so much passion, so much fire. He wants to run people over. Like we say about [Europe’s] Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed is built to play Ryder Cups.”
At July’s PGA Championship, someone asked Reed if he had crossed the line from being confident but still humble enough for the American sporting public to being too much so with his top-three-in-the-world comment.
“I appreciate you saying top three because I said top five,” Reed said, “and I appreciate you calling me cocky as well. You have to believe in yourself. If there was not a mic around and you asked every single guy where they want to be, they’re going to say No. 1 in the world. And if they don’t, those guys don’t have a chance to win golf tournaments because they don’t believe in themselves.
“When it comes down to it, I believe in myself. I play golf. I am who I am. I’m not writing the articles. All I can do is play golf, be who I am and hopefully I’ll write the good ones.”
He already has a logo, apparently lacking a trademark.
“Maybe I’ll do that,” he said. “That would actually be pretty cool.”