Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
By Brian Wacker
Patrick Reed believes the United States should feel like the “underdog” going into this year’s Ryder Cup in Paris, where the Americans are looking to end a 25-year drought overseas. Or at least that’s what he’s saying for public consumption.
“We feel great and we can’t wait to get over there and try to end the drought of not winning overseas,” the reigning Masters champion said on Wednesday during a press conference promoting the Hong Kong Open, which takes place in November. “I feel that kind of takes a little bit of pressure off us and puts more pressure on the European team because they’re the ones that have had so much success overseas, that everyone thinks we’re going to come in and they’re going to win the Cup again. So we’re going to go in and feel like we’re the underdogs and try to play the best that we can.”
There is certainly truth to the fact that the Europeans have been a juggernaut as the home team in the event. The U.S. hasn’t won on the road since 1993 at The Belfry when 51-year-old Ray Floyd went 3-1 for the week and secured the clinching point to help lead the Americans to a 15-13 victory. And of the last five trips across the Atlantic for the Americans, only two of the biennial matches ended up being close contests, at Valderrama in 1997 and Celtic Manor in 2010, both one-point victories for the Europeans.
However, on paper this year’s match up would suggest the Americans have the roster to end that streak. Las Vegas has the U.S. a heavy 1-to-2 favourite to retain the Cup, and also the favourite to win it outright.
Part of that logic stems from the fact that this year’s U.S. team has 31 collective majors among it, including three of the last four and six of the last eight. It features three of the top four ranked players in the world and nine of the top 20. The Americans also have a healthy and resurgent Tiger Woods and a surging Phil Mickelson.
Then there’s the last time the two sides met, two years ago at Hazeltine National in Minnesota. Reed went 3-0-1 for the week, which included an electric 1-up victory over Rory McIlroy in Sunday singles, and the U.S. blew out Europe, 17-11.
Sure, the Europeans are loaded with well-known names that have plenty of Ryder Cup experience. But making them out to be the favorite suggests that Reed might be practicing in the time-honored tradition: Downplaying his team’s chances in order to reduce expectations.
As he tries to play the “underdog” card—OK, he doesn’t say they’re the underdogs, just that they are going to go in and feel like the underdogs— he is also feeling good about the Americans’ chances in two weeks.
“I think the biggest thing is we finally got a taste of victory,” Reed said of the win at Hazeltine. “Having us in control of the Cup right now means we have the confidence in ourselves. We’ve won, we feel great and the guys on the team are playing really well.
“To bring the dynamic of having Tiger and Phil back on the team and then have the rookies in [Bryson] DeChambeau and [Tony] Finau, it just feels like we have a lot of confidence in our guys.”
That’s a good mindset for a group of “underdogs.”