Patrick Reed, the favorite to win the men’s golf event at this year’s Olympics, was one of the last players to finish his round on Sunday. His scorecard didn’t reflect it though as he shot a three-under 69 and finished in second place.
SAITAMA, JAPAN – SAITAMA, JAPAN – Patrick Reed was going in a cart around a golf course he’d never seen before about 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, attempting to collect notes before it got dark so he could start playing for an Olympic gold the next morning.
The whole Tokyo Games experience is unusual and unsettling, but Reed is an exception. He didn’t find out he was coming until last Saturday night, when Bryson DeChambeau was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Reed didn’t fly to Tokyo until Tuesday morning and didn’t arrive until Wednesday afternoon local time. He couldn’t even hit a shot on the practice range, much alone a whole round.
But there was Reed on Thursday, shooting a 3-under 68 in his opening round at Kasumigaseki Country Club. He tied for low American with Xander Schauffele, was five strokes behind first-round leader Sepp Straka of Austria, and was in early contention for a medal.
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Reed was forced to depend on something he’d never done before: cooperation.
Reed is renowned for having tunnel vision and staying to himself on the course, range, and in the clubhouse. He’s said he enjoys socializing with his peers outside of the course, but he’s also a loner.
While playing companions Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry talked cordially between shots about the Olympic Village and their experiences in Japan during Reed’s round on Thursday, he was off in his own universe.
However, earlier in the morning, he approached his Team USA colleagues and inquired about the course, which they had been training for the previous week. This format is unusual in that it is a traditional solo stroke-play tournament with no team element. Countrymen, on the other hand, typically practice together, stay together, and eat together as if it were the Ryder Cup.
As a result, the Americans shared their notes with their teammate.
Colin Morikawa of Team USA stated discussing pre-event plans is “something you usually don’t do.” “Patrick is a rival, but we are both on the same team. He just asked a handful of basic inquiries.”
Reed was mainly interested in learning how approach shots were received on the greens. The course is immaculate, having been closed to members for two months in order to prepare it for the 60 players in the field. There are many deep fairway bunkers and multi-tiered greens on the course.
Reed’s lack of experience hurt him a couple occasions. A sand wedge approach on the 15th hole spun more than he anticipated, and his ball landed about 60 feet from the pin. He had only a lob wedge in on the short 17th and assumed the green sloped from back to front when, in fact, the rear of the green slid away from the golfer. His ball didn’t grip onto the hill as it flew in close to the pin. Instead, it descended into the depths, resulting to a bogey.
“There’s just so much the other players can do for you,” Reed said. “[Justin Thomas] flies right by me. Xander’s irons spin faster than mine. Colin does edits, while I make drawings.”
As he worked on paperwork, testing, and preparing for the trip, Reed slept for less than an hour Monday night. Before heading abroad, he traveled from Houston to San Francisco. He had a good night’s sleep, but when a rain delay occurred on Thursday afternoon, he began to feel the effects of jet lag in the air-conditioned clubhouse.
To remain awake, he went to the range even though it was still raining. He smashed a shot off the par-5 14th tee and scored a birdie when play resumed. Considering everything, his finish was outstanding, much better than he had anticipated.
“Adrenaline got me going early on,” Reed said, “which enabled me to sort of keep going.” “Really, the body hung in there a lot better than I could’ve anticipated.”