Patrick Reed looked at the first tee’s huge 7,000-seat grandstand at Le Golf National and laughed, pondering the hecklers he will face when his American squad face Europe starting Friday in the Ryder Cup.
“Why only 7? Couldn’t you get more?” Reed joked. “When I first saw that on the first tee, I looked up and felt like I kept looking up and up and up. There are going to be so many people that are sitting in there. It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere.”
The 28-year-old reigning Masters champion has been known for loving the jeers and taunts of fans ever since he put finger to lips and shushed European fans in 2014 after sinking a long putt at Gleneagles.
“The first tee is going to be just so much fun,” Reed said. “I can’t wait to hear all the little cheers and just little quirky things they can do and say, because it’s always fun coming overseas and hearing all the little playful jabs and chants that they have going on.”
His antics earned him the nickname “Captain America” and a villain’s role he readily relishes this week as the trophy holders invade France.
“Coming overseas, Captain America, I was supposed to be the villain, just like when Ian Poulter comes to the States, he’s the villain,” Reed said.
“So you expect to hear the fans kind of go back and forth with you. If it’s not happening, it probably means you’re not playing very well. I love it when we can interact with the fans and get going, because there’s no other event that you can do that at.”
At last week’s Tour Championship, Reed had many more cheers as Captain America than Masters champion.
“They are just trying to get me in that mind-set and get ready for Ryder Cup,” he said. “It’s a good problem to have to have… but this week I’m definitely Captain America.”
Reed said the songs and chants and taunts he faces are a sign of respect and he takes them as such.
“The biggest thing is I know it’s playfulness,” Reed said. “There’s really nothing to get underneath my skin, that’s for sure.
“In 2014, with how the fans were on the first tee, just the bantering back and forth and the chants, I thought were very clever and very fun, because they know that line of respect and they always are above that line. They never actually cross it and get disrespectful.
“One thing I cherish when I come overseas is they know how to give jabs and take shots at you back and forth, and they do it in a respectful way. That just speaks volumes of the type of people and sports fans and passion they have for sports.”
While the Americans are trying to end a 25-year win drought in Europe, Reed wants to stretch his personal streak – “I’m going for three in a row and see if I can get booed again.”
US rookie Bryson DeChambeau will try to emulate the spark he sees in Reed.
“He brings an incredible fire to the team,” DeChambeau said. “I got to see him hole out that shot a couple years ago at Hazeltine. It was inspirational. It was motivating. It was just fun to see.”
The Ryder Cup is the one golf event where emotions can be released.
“We all have a bunch of emotion. It’s just some guys wear it on their sleeve and some guys bottle it up,” Reed said. “This is the one week you can show the passion you have.
“If you make a putt and you’re excited, show it. If you go out and you miss a putt, and you’re not thrilled, show it, but do it in the right way. This is the one week we’re allowed to let loose and show our emotions.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)