Patrick Reed was not the best golfer on the United States' Ryder Cup team. He was not even the best golfer on his own two-man team for the week. That was Jordan Spieth. Or at least, Spieth was the more accomplished of the two.
Reed was not the best driver on the U.S. team (by far). He was not the best putter. He did not solidify his spot on this team until August when he won The Barclays. He does not have a top 10 in a major championship. He was the only U.S. player who has not achieved that feat. Five of his American peers have major championships. Reed has never come close.
Reed is reviled in some PGA Tour circles, mostly by fans, for once referring to himself as one of the world's top five players. That's a barrier he has not come close to breaking. Even his opponent on Sunday, Rory McIlroy, has given him grief for that statement in the past.
And yet, Reed was the designated starter for captain Davis Love III, who paired him with Spieth to open foursomes play on Friday. Reed was also the designated closer on Sunday.
It had been eight years since the United States had taken that spire of a golden trophy back to the team room where the champagne and trash talk surely flows at levels us plebeians have never experienced. The Americans took it again this time around after beating the Europeans 17-11 and thrashing them in singles on Sunday 7.5-4.5.
It all started with Reed. Spieth called him "Captain America" on Saturday. Reed showed why on Sunday. He was the most ruthless of all these Americans players at Hazeltine. He was the "Reedemer."
Reed helped the U.S. overcome three straight heartbreaking Ryder Cup defeats this week. He helped it to a six-point victory, its largest in Ryder Cup play dating back to 1981. He helped it to its first sweep of a entire session (four matches) since 1975.
On paper, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed are not in the same stratosphere. Everyone knows this, McIlroy most of all. The only person at Hazeltine to whom that is a foreign concept is Patrick Reed. Their singles match, the first of 12 on Sunday, started slowly but soon blasted off like a Dustin Johnson drive. Reed drove the fifth and made eagle. After a birdie to match McIlroy at the sixth, he bowed and finger-wagged across the green while looking at the Ulsterman. McIlroy didn't see it, but the message had been sent.
They both birdied the seventh and eighth, and Reed wagged again.
Reed ended it on No. 18 with yet another birdie, his fifth of the day to go with that eagle. He started his trademark double fist pump (a move he showed off in the victory press conference following a few sips of champagne), and it was all over.