REED & RORY WANT A RE­MATCH

These two (and the fans) are hop­ing it can hap­pen one more time.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By John Fe­in­stein

Davis love has all sorts of me­men­tos from the 2016 Ry­der Cup scat­tered around his house. There are two, though, that he prob­a­bly en­joys look­ing at more than any of the oth­ers. ▶ One is the ball that Ryan Moore played on the 18th hole of his sin­gles match with Lee West­wood. When West­wood con­ceded Moore’s one-foot par putt shortly af­ter 4 o’clock on that bright Oc­to­ber Sun­day in Min­nesota, the Ry­der Cup re­turned to the United States. ▶ Moore was in­stantly sur­rounded by his team­mates and never both­ered to pick the ball up. Love picked it up for him. ▶ “In 1993, when I made the putt at The Bel­fry that clinched re­tain­ing the cup, I never got the ball from the hole because I was mobbed, and then I went to shake hands with Costantino (Rocca),” Love says. “I al­ways re­gret­ted that. I wanted to make sure Ryan got that golf ball.” ▶ But when Love tried to hand the ball over to Moore, the new hero shook his head. “You keep it, cap­tain,” he said. “I want you to have it.” The other cher­ished me­mento is even smaller than Moore’s golf ball. It’s the tee that Pa­trick Reed used to hit his drive at No 18 ear­lier that Sun­day dur­ing his epic sin­gles match with Rory McIl­roy. “As soon as he hit it, he started walk­ing down the fair­way with this strut in his step like he knew he’d hit it 50 yards past Rory,” Love says, laugh­ing. “I just went over and grabbed it. I wanted some­thing to re­mem­ber that match by – one way or the other. “I knew Rory had hit it way past Pa­trick,” Love says, “but it didn’t mat­ter. He wasn’t go­ing to let the match get away. He knew it; Rory knew it; I knew it.” McIl­roy had, in fact, hit his tee shot 30 yards past Reed. As Love says, it didn’t mat­ter. Reed hit his sec­ond shot to 10 feet and made the birdie putt that clinched the match. McIl­roy, who had hit his sec­ond shot to six feet, knew Reed wasn’t go­ing to miss the putt. “He hadn’t missed all day,” he said. “Why would he miss that one?” When Love told Reed later about pick­ing up the tee, Reed laughed. “I know,” he said. “I saw you.” To this day, Love has no idea how it was pos­si­ble for Reed to see him. “He was 25 yards up the fair­way, prac­ti­cally run­ning. He’d have made a great point guard with that kind of pe­riph­eral vi­sion.” Although Ser­gio Gar­cia and Phil Mick­el­son would later halve a su­perb match – each shot 63 – it is the ReedMcIl­roy duel that those who were at Hazel­tine that day re­mem­ber as if it ended 15 min­utes ago. “Tiger was walk­ing with them, and he had his ra­dio open,” says Jim Furyk, who will cap­tain this year’s Amer­i­can team out­side Paris be­gin­ning Septem­ber 28. “We would hear this mas­sive cheer come through the ra­dio, and then he’d have to wait at least a minute, maybe longer, to talk to us because it was so loud.” At one point, Woods, who has put on some shows of his own, said, “You guys won’t be­lieve what I’m see­ing right now.”

the match that al­most wasn’t

The Amer­i­cans had a 9½-6½ lead at the end of Satur­day’s four­ball matches. But ev­ery­one on both sides re­mem­bered Me­d­i­nah in 2012, when the US team had led, 10-6, go­ing into the sin­gles matches. Love had been the US cap­tain that year, too. Late that Sun­day night, when he went to the Euro­pean team room to con­grat­u­late cap­tain Jose Maria Olaz­a­bal and his play­ers on their vic­tory, his good friend Dar­ren Clarke had taken him aside, put an arm around him and said, “What the hell were you think­ing?” Europe had, as Love now puts it, “loaded the boat,” putting its best four play­ers out first, know­ing it needed blue on the board early. Love had put out a more bal­anced lineup. Be­fore you could say, Mir­a­cle at Me­d­i­nah, Europe won the first five matches and went on to re­tain the cup. “What I learned that day was, I had spent months think­ing about the pair­ings for the first two days,” Love says, “and I did a good job with it. But I spent maybe an hour or two think­ing about Sun­day’s lineup, and that’s 12 matches. When they

asked me to cap­tain again, I vowed not to make the same mis­take.”

Af­ter the matches ended on Satur­day at Hazel­tine, Love sent his five vice cap­tains – Woods, Furyk,Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker and Bubba Wat­son – to the back of the Hazel­tine locker room to start putting pair­ings to­gether. He sat in the club’s din­ing area – the US team room – with his play­ers to talk to them about the next 24 hours.

By the time he walked in to where his as­sis­tants were wait­ing, Love was hav­ing a bit of a panic at­tack. For months the plan had been to load the boat on Sun­day – whether lead­ing or trail­ing.A fast start was im­per­a­tive to ei­ther keep spir­its high, among play­ers and the ra­bid crowd, or to get them go­ing.

Love thought Clarke – now his op­pos­ing cap­tain – might push McIl­roy and Hen­rik Sten­son to the third and fourth spots because McIl­roy had tra­di­tion­ally played third. He wanted his two best play­ers, Reed and Jor­dan Spi­eth, to go head-to-head with them.

“Maybe we should move Pa­trick and Jor­dan back,” Love said.

Ev­ery­one dis­agreed.“We re­minded him what the plan had been all along,” Furyk says. “If they moved Rory and Sten­son back, so be it. But we wanted to come out guns blazing.”

There was one other thing.“I think deep down we knew Rory was go­ing first,” Love says.“He had to go first.”

‘THEIR FANS ARE CLEVER AND FUNNY— FUN­NIER THAN WE ARE. OUR CROWDS ARE LOUDER.’ —PA­TRICK REED

McIl­roy felt that way, too, and had told Clarke that. He thought that Love wouldn’t make the same mis­take twice and would lead with Reed, who had taken on the man­tle of Cap­tain Amer­ica that week.

“I was go­ing to do what­ever the cap­tain told me to do, of course,” Reed says. “But I wanted to be out there first, and I wanted to play Rory. I loved the chal­lenge.”

With Ian Poul­ter hurt and in the role of vice cap­tain, with Graeme Mc­Dow­ell not on the team and with vet­er­ans West­wood and Martin Kaymer strug­gling, McIl­roy had ar­rived at Hazel­tine know­ing he had to lead a team with six rook­ies.

Clarke knew it, too. “Rory had to go out first,” he says. “He’d been our leader all week, the guy who took charge in the team room, the guy ev­ery­one looked to. I was hop­ing he would come to me and say, ‘I want to play first.’ I’m not hon­estly sure what I would have done if he’d said he wanted to stay in that third spot, where he’d been com­fort­able in the past.

“I didn’t ex­pect him to say that, and he didn’t let me down,” Clarke says. “Once he said he wanted to play first, it wasn’t that dif­fi­cult to make the rest of the lineup. Rory had to be the one out there first not only to play Reed, who I knew would be out first, but to take on the Amer­i­can fans – again.”

For two days, McIl­roy had taken on the op­po­si­tion in­side and out­side the ropes. “I had to do it,” he says. “I was play­ing well com­ing in (win­ning the Tour Cham­pi­onship), and some of the veteran guys who had been our lead­ers weren’t there to lead as in the past. I needed to show the guys not only that we could win but we weren’t go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated by the crowd.

“I thought if I could take Pa­trick down, get us off to a fast start, we could rally the way we had at Me­d­i­nah,” McIl­roy says. “I knew this was dif­fer­ent from Me­d­i­nah. There, we’d won the last two points on Satur­day to close the gap to four.We had the mo­men­tum. This time, we’d given up points late, let them build the mar­gin. My job was to get the mo­men­tum back.”

go­ing ‘full hulk’

One couldn’t fault McIl­roy’s ef­fort. He birdied five of the first eight holes. As it turned out, that wasn’t enough. McIl­roy birdied the third hole to go 1 up be­fore Reed drove the short par-4 fifth and made an eight-foot putt for ea­gle to even the match.

The next three holes were what Woods would de­scribe as need­ing to be seen to be be­lieved. Both men birdied 6, both men birdied 7. At the par-3 eighth, McIl­roy had what Reed now de­scribes as “a five-mil­lion-foot putt” for birdie. McIl­roy drained it, then went – in the words of Matt Kuchar – full Hulk,” scream­ing at the top of his lungs, do­ing ev­ery­thing but tear­ing his shirt off.

Reed had about a 25-footer to match him. He rolled it in the cen­tre, and the place was so loud it felt as if the roof would come off the build­ing – ex­cept the roof was blue sky . . . and it al­most came off.

Reed turned and pointed his fin­ger at McIl­roy, and for a split sec­ond it looked as if the sit­u­a­tion might turn hos­tile. It didn’t. McIl­roy of­fered a fist bump, and the two made the long walk to the ninth tee side by side.

“That walk might be what I re­mem­ber most from that day,” Reed says.“We

‘WIN­NING THE RY­DER CUP IS DIF­FER­ENT – IT’S UNIQUE. BUT THE NEXT-BEST THING IS LOS­ING THE RY­DER CUP. I WOULDN’T MISS ONE FOR THE WORLD.’ —RORY MCIL­ROY

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