Reed relishes fans' adulation

Patrick Reed tipping his cap on the 18th hole at the Liberty National Golf Course, after sealing his one-shot victory. His win in New Jersey was his first title since claiming last year's Masters at Augusta. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Patrick Reed tipping his cap on the 18th hole at the Liberty National Golf Course, after sealing his one-shot victory. His win in New Jersey was his first title since claiming last year's Masters at Augusta. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

American soaks in support in Northern Trust win as he breaks his 16-month title drought

JERSEY CITY • It was like old times for Patrick Reed, who stood triumphant on the 18th green at Liberty National Golf Club as scattered cries of "Captain America" rang out.

Sunday was the first time since his last victory, at the Masters in April last year, that he had entered the final round with the lead.

Reed, who closed with a two-under 69 for a winning total of 16-under 268, said Georgia was on his mind on Sunday. He drew on the moments at Augusta when he had to weather other players' charges. But that experience was not his touchstone for grinding out a one-stroke win over Abraham Ancer at The Northern Trust in the first of three FedExCup play-off events.

Two years ago, he helped lead the United States to victory in the Presidents Cup at this same course, compiling a 3-1-1 record against the International squad.

From the opening tee shot on Sunday, Reed's final-group pairing with Ancer - who with his second-place finish secured a maiden spot on the International team to become the first Mexican to do so - felt like a sneak preview of this year's Presidents Cup, with spectators cheering for both players.

"You know that you're going to have a lot of fans behind you, being the American guy on the tee box," Reed said. "And to see how well they respected not just me, but how much they embraced and respected him was awesome to see."

It was Reed's seventh PGA Tour title and his second FedExCup play-off win, after The Barclays in 2016.

After his first Major title, he followed up with a fourth place at the US Open but did not finish inside the top nine in his next six Major starts - and twice missed the cut.

Some first-time Major winners become complacent, but not the world No. 15, who said: "I felt like I almost did the opposite. I almost felt like I pressed harder, and worked harder and tried harder."

But all the extra time and toil earned him was fatigue. After he missed the cut at the PGA Championship, he decided his dreadful results called for drastic measures.

He put his clubs away for 10 days and took a two-week vacation to the Hamptons with his wife, Justine, and their two small children to recharge his batteries.

The break led to a "clearer picture and mind" and Reed insisted after ending a drought spanning 41 tournaments that he hoped his next win would not take that long. He said: "I don't like long gaps. It's not fun, you know what I mean? I've always played to win golf tournaments."

He has not yet secured a spot on the US team for the Dec 9-15 Presidents Cup in Melbourne but feels captain Tiger Woods will have taken note of his win. Reed is 12th in the points standings and the top eight will be named to the team at the conclusion of the BMW Championship this weekend.

"Seeing the Statue of Liberty on every hole and having the fans yell, 'Captain America' and 'USA' all week, it (the pick) definitely was on my mind," he said. "But the biggest thing for me was just to put that behind me and just focus on the golf, because at the end of the day, if you play good golf, it all takes care of itself."

ASSOCIATED PRESS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2019, with the headline 'Reed relishes fans' adulation'. Print Edition | Subscribe