The first event of the 2015-16 FedEx Cup Playoffs last week was a good one, and we got a strong champion at The Barclays. The playoffs normally yield great champions late when the fields get whittled down, but this year’s first event produced a great champion early in the playoffs (a champion greater than you might think).
Let’s look at five things to know about the week that was at Bethpage Black.
1. How historically good is Patrick Reed? Five PGA Tour wins by the age of 26 is something special. The struggle here is that he still does not have a top 10 at a major championship. That’s weird, right? Five wins but no top 10s at majors. What am I supposed to do with that information?
If Reed wins today, only Spieth & McIlroy will have reached 5 PGA Tour wins at a younger age over the last decade. #TheBarclays
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 28, 2016
Reed’s issue, as is often the issue with the great ones, is staying patient.
“Really kind of seemed like instead of pushing so hard to try to get the win, it’s just go back to that one word, patience,” said Reed. “Sit back. This is your game plan. Just go with it. It will work. I tried to get away from it a couple times today and [caddie] Kessler [Karain], I told him at the start of the day, ‘I don’t care what’s going on, do not allow me to go away from this.’ Every time I tried to, he’s like, ‘No.’ He’s like, ‘This is what we’re going to do. This is our game plan.’ Just by sticking with it, it definitely paid off.”
That attitude would likely serve him well at major championships in the future, but even without those majors, he’s still been incredible at a young age. He’s tracking to reach double digit wins by the age of 30, which would be something only Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have done in recent memory.
The majors will (presumably) come, but until then, we should start appreciating how good Reed has been in the interim. Historically good? Maybe. Definitely one of the best within his generation of players so far.
2. Rickie Fowler lost a lot, but he gained a lot, too: Fowler blew the tournament and an automatic spot on the Ryder Cup team down the stretch, but he did enough to get a captain’s pick from U.S. captain Davis Love III no matter what happens over the next two weeks. Fowler knows it. Reed knows it, too.
“He just told me, he was like, ‘Hey,’ he goes, ‘I’m going to go get my work done,’ and he was like, ‘I’ll see you in Minnesota.'” said Reed. “I said, ‘I know you will be.'”
Love even mentioned this on Monday at a press conference.
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) August 29, 2016
The feeling here is that Love is looking for reasons to put him on the team, not to exclude him from it. A 54-hole lead in a playoff event and finishing in the top 12 of the Ryder Cup qualifiers will do it. And do it pretty easily for a dynamic, engaging, team-oriented personality like Fowler.
3. Rory McIlroy still struggling with the putter, but Jason Day is not: McIlroy put a new putter in the bag and lost nearly six strokes to the field on the greens. If he had putted his average (0.00 strokes gained), he would have finished in the top seven. If he had putted like Day, he would have won by five strokes. Five!
Speaking of Day, how long can he keep this up? He’s leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting at over one a round and gained over two a round at Bethpage. The guy is a maniac. I trust hot putting streaks less than I trust great swings so Day should take advantage while he can, but we are witnessing one of the greatest putting seasons every from the Aussie.
To put it in perspective, Phil Mickelson is the No. 2 putter on the PGA Tour this season. He’s closer to being No. 25 than he is to being No. 1. Outrageous stuff from the best putter alive.
4. Bethpage for a Ryder Cup will be lunacy. The Barclays was total mayhem as fans screamed during tee shots and chanted wildly for their stars. Can you imagine what the 2024 Ryder Cup will be like here when there’s actual bad blood on the line?
“The crowds are crazy,” said Reed. “They are awesome. You don’t get to go to golf tournaments very often and have crowds literally come up with chants. The only time I’ve heard chants before was at Gleneagles. You know, to step up on the first tee, and there’s chants going from when you start until you finish, it’s just awesome. You can feed off of all the energy that’s going on. Then all of a sudden, if people start to heckle you, then you can start trying to prove them wrong.”
5. War has been declared on the European Ryder Cup team. Speaking of Reed … he went right for the heart of Team Europe in his post-win press conference. This was largely what the U.S. needed from a big part of its heart at the 2014 Ryder Cup.
“It was very important,” said Reed. “I want sweet revenge just like our whole team does. There’s nothing like playing for your country and representing the United States. You know, being able to do it for the first time overseas at the Ryder Cup was just amazing. Now I finally get to play for the United States in the United States and I cannot wait to see how the fans are, and just have the whole crowd on our side this time. It’s going to be so much fun. I know we’re going to work so hard to keep that cup back home.”
It also has not been ruled out that Reed will ride to the first tee on the back of a giant bald eagle.
Q: Speaking of home games for The Ryder Cup, if this was kind of your signature move in Scotland, what do you have planned for Minnesota?
Reed: “I can’t tell you.”
Q: Sure you can.
Reed: “No, I can’t. Why? If I tell you, then it won’t be a surprise.”
To quote the immortal Bart Scott, “Can’t wait!”
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Five things to know after The Barclays as the FedEx Cup Playoffs kick into gear