FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Patrick Reed occupied the eighth and final spot in the Ryder Cup standings going into the final qualifying event, which brought him the attention no one wants. He was the guy on the bubble, and most of the chatter was negative.
Even more aggravating to Reed was that it was his own fault.
The American had developed the consistency he needed. Over the last 20 months, he had 22 finishes in the top 10 around the world, with five runner-ups. Missing during that stretch was winning, and that’s all that matters to Reed.
“Because at the end of the day, a lot of top 10s … it’s great, but it’s going to make you be on that bubble,” Reed said. “I’ve had it feels like 100 top 10s this year. And I’ve just kind of stayed there on that No. 6, 7, 8, 9 on the Ryder Cup. And it takes something like a win to be able to solidify yourself.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Reed. The moment couldn’t be better for his confidence.
He didn’t flinch in the final round at The Barclays until he could afford a few mistakes. Reed went from a two-shot deficit early in the round to a three-shot lead with three holes to play, and he hung in from there for a 1-under 70 and a one-shot victory over Sean O’Hair and Emiliano Grillo.
“Top 10s are great for making a living,” Reed said. “But at the end of the day, every time we play golf tournaments, we don’t play for top 10s. We’re going there to try to get a W and try to get hardware, try to get a trophy.”
The crystal trophy was on the table, and Reed glanced at it every now and then.
It was his fifth victory on the PGA Tour, and even though he faced one of the strongest and deepest fields of the year, Reed still favors one of his early victories as the most significant. That was two years ago in a World Golf Championship, when winning was still new to him.
“Probably the biggest difference between this week and that week was I had another guy in black and red in the group in front of me,” Reed said with a smile.
That guy was Tiger Woods, whom Reed grew up idolizing to the point that he prefers to wear black trousers and a red shirt in the final group. That day at Doral, Woods played in the group ahead and Reed didn’t blink. Woods was starting to cope with back issues — he would have the first of three back surgeries a month later — though Reed didn’t give anyone much of a chance.
The victory at Bethpage required a little more work.
He trailed Rickie Fowler early, and even when he caught him with a birdie on the seventh hole, Reed felt another tournament slipping away.
Reed couldn’t help but think about all the missed chances in the opening hour — four putts from 10 feet or in that failed to drop, including an 8-foot eagle attempt. He wondered if this was one of those stretches that had kept him from winning since the 2015 opener at Kapalua.
That’s when his caddie, brother-in-law Kessler Karain, stepped in and told him to quit worrying about it and keep hitting good shots.
“It was kind of creeping back in, just going through my mind on events earlier this year when I had these kind of stretches,” Reed said. “To get over that hump and put the pedal down … I felt like that just set the tone for me and let me run with it.”
Two tough par saves gave him the lead. A birdie on No. 12 stretched it two shots, and no one got closer until Reed made bogey on the final hole.
He was no longer on the bubble, moving to No. 4 in the Ryder Cup to qualify easily. He went up to No. 9 in the world, a little closer to that boast that he felt like a top 5 player when he won at Doral. And he is No. 1 in the FedEx Cup.
That’s significant because Reed now is assured of being among the five players who only have to win the Tour Championship at East Lake to capture the FedEx Cup and claim the $10 million bonus, the richest payoff in golf.
And he’ll be at Hazeltine when the Ryder Cup begins Sept. 30.
It was at the Ryder Cup two years ago when Reed first showed his pugnacious side. He placed his finger over his lips for a “shush” sign that riled up Scottish gallery at Gleneagles and earned him a small measure of respect for his moxie. Reed was one of the bright spots for the Americans, and he’s eager to play before a home crowd.
What does he have planned for a Minnesota crowd?
“If I tell you,” he said with a grin, “then it won’t be a surprise.”