Honma Hong Kong Open

Ryder Cup winner Patrick Reed plays down Tiger Woods spat ahead of Hong Kong Open

American headlines field for this week’s US$2 million event at Hong Kong Golf Club alongside Masters champion Danny Willett, 2015 winner Justin Rose and former champion Ian Poulter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 6:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 11:00pm

World number eight Patrick Reed is a man who quite obviously gives as good as he gets around the golf course, but he has arrived for the US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open wanting to tone down reports of the toe-to-toe the American had with one of the best in the business when it comes to banter – Tiger Woods.

It emerged at the Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas at the weekend that there had been some back and forth between the pair during this year’s Ryder Cup – an event the Americans won, thanks in no small part to Reed’s stellar contribution.

For those who missed it, the story goes that the in-form Reed and his playing partner Jordan Spieth were so happy with the way they were playing they decided to start winding up the non-playing vice-captain Woods, who was watching on from the sidelines, asking him if he’d ever seen golf played so good.

Not so smart when you’re talking to arguably the best player the game has ever seen, and Woods apparently immediately rounded on Reed with a gentle reminder: “Don’t worry, Patrick, you only need 74 more wins and 14 more majors.”

“It was friendly banter,” said Reed. “He’d been texting the guys back and forth. There’s a lot of shots you give back and forth – it’s just something that guys do. At the end of the day it’s kind of fun and maybe it was spun the wrong way in the media.”

After playing a day with Woods in the Bahamas last week, Reed reported: “Nothing he did that week concerned me that he’s not healthy and ready to go. I was just sitting there going ‘Wow, he’s coming back with a vengeance’.”

‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed can’t wait to return to Hong Kong Open – and under-21s can watch Ryder Cup star for free

When it comes to banter, however, the Texan did admit to the fact that he was planning to serve up some gentle reminders of his own to the beaten European brigade gathered at the Hong Kong Golf Club this week – a group that includes reigning Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose, this year’s Masters winner Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter, who was a non-playing vice-captain for Europe what at this year’s edition of the historic event.

“I’ll be throwing a few in there to the guys,” he said. “We go back and forth and it’s one of those fun things that you have over the guys for two years. It’s been pretty mum for our side for a long time.

“We’ve been having to hear about it and hear about it and hear about it. So the US side is a little more vocal this year.”

Reed has been among the hottest golfers on the planet these past few years. Aside from his Ryder Cup heroics in September, there’s been victory at The Barclays event in August, his sixth as a pro plying his trade on both the US PGA and European Tour.

‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed to bring his Ryder Cup heroics to Hong Kong Open at Fanling

On debut last year at Fanling he kept the leaders in his sights all week before finished tied for third on 11-under 269, six strokes behind Rose.

Reed revealed yesterday there had been some important lessons learned, and he was keen to put them into practice when play starts Thursday – once he’d dusted off the jet lag that will no doubt come from around 40 hours in transit since he left the Bahamas behind.

All part of the job, Reed said.

“At the end of the day you’re not going to reach your full potential just playing at home,” he said. “You need to put yourself outside you comfort zone. My maturity in golf has come because of learning my body and learning about what it is I need to do to play at a high level. Different weeks require different things. It’s been a big learning curve for me.”

What’s needed to win the Hong Kong Open?

“Play the golf course smarter,” he said. “It more about position golf than power golf.”