Ryder Cup pants propel Captain America into contention


ERIN, Wis. – We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up at a major.

You know, Captain America.

AKA Patrick Reed.

We’ve been waiting for Reed to work out exactly how to channel all the ferocity and intensity that makes him such a force at the Ryder Cup into a force in a major championship.

Well, he arrived in a big way Saturday at Erin Hills.

Reed got himself into contention with a 7-under-par 65, equaling the lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. He lipped out a 6-foot birdie chance at the last that would have momentarily given him a record-breaking effort.

“All I could ask for is to get myself in a position where if I go out and have a good round tomorrow, I win a golf tournament,” Reed said

When Reed walked out of his post-round interview, he was locked in a seven-way tie for the lead, though he had a pretty good idea that wouldn’t last with all the other leaders still out on the course.

In fact, Reed’s share of the U.S. Open single-round scoring record didn’t last, either. About an hour after Reed finish, Justin Thomas posted a 9-under 63 to set the new mark.

Still, Reed got himself in the Sunday hunt to win his first major championship title.

Really, though, Reed gave all the credit to the women in his life for figuring out how to channel some of his Ryder Cup mojo into a major. They encouraged him to wear red, white and blue every round this week.

“I don't have a say in the wardrobe change,” Reed said. “I have my wife, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. And they mainly tell me, 'This is what you're going to wear.’ I just say, `Okay. Sounds good.’”

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They also got him to wear a pair of actual Ryder Cup pants on Saturday, with “USA” lettering down a pant leg.

“First time I've worn them in competition,” Reed said. “I've worn them a lot around the house and stuff like that and practice. Yeah, it was the first time popping them back out in play. They felt good.”

Reed, 26, a five-time PGA Tour winner, has been such a formidablee Ryder Cup player. He’s 6-1-2 in his two Ryder Cup appearances. He took down Rory McIlroy in an epic singles match at Hazeltine in the American victory last September.

While Reed loved hearing all the “Captain America” shout-outs to him Saturday at Erin Hills, he said playing the role in majors has been tougher than wearing Ryder Cup clothes. He isn’t quite sure if the role translates the same.

“It's hard to say,” he said. “You always can take that fire from the Ryder Cup and use it in other events. But you're talking polar opposites. You're talking one-on-one competition against 155. And because of that you can go out and play some great golf, but you have a bunch of guys out there that can play some good golf, as well.

“I think the biggest thing is not getting ahead of yourself. Every time I've been in majors so far, my first two years, I've put so much emphasis on them and tried so hard at them that I kind of got in my way.”

In 13 previous major championship starts, Reed doesn’t have a top-10 finish. He has never gone into the final round of a major with a real chance to win. Reed says he put too much pressure on himself going to majors early in his career.

“I worked too hard Monday through Wednesday,” Reed said. “And so by Saturday, I was tired. And then also I was living and dying with every golf shot, every putt and everything. Coming into this year, I was like, `It’s just another golf tournament. Show up. Do what you do on a normal event and just play golf.’ Because at the end of the day, if I go out and play the best I can and am happy with how I play, the result will take care of itself. And that's the kind of mindset I am going into tomorrow with.”