PATRICK Reed may have contributed to Stephen Gallacher suffering a defeat on his Ryder Cup debut but the Scot is delighted to see the American flying in for the Volvo World Match Play Championship, which starts today at the London Club.
While Gallacher is among five members of Europe’s winning team at Gleneagles taking part as the event celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is the presence of Reed that has added intrigue.
He was widely ridiculed after coming out in the wake of his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral earlier this year and saying he believed he was “one of the top five players in the world”.
However, Reed let his clubs do the talking in the Ryder Cup as he picked up three-and-a-half points from four matches, book-ending a fine first appearance in the event with a fourballs win with Jordan Spieth over Gallacher and Ian Poulter then beating Henrik Stenson in the singles.
“It’s great that Patrick Reed is in the field this week,” said Gallacher as he prepared to take on Irishman Shane Lowry in his opening match in a group that also includes Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal. “He was a tough opponent in the Ryder Cup and I’m sure he will be here as well. Patrick and Jordan were well under par when they beat myself and Ian at Gleneagles and they both played well in their other matches, too.
“You don’t win a WGC event, as Patrick did this year, without being a top-class player. They don’t give those events away. Everyone knows that he said a few things that didn’t go down well but he’s young and I think it’s refreshing that he’s come over for this event.”
Reed, who starts out against Swede Jonas Blixt then faces Englishman Paul Casey and Welshman Jamie Donaldson in his other games in the round-robin phase – the top two in each of the four groups progress to Saturday’s quarter-finals – revealed he made the journey on his wife Justine’s advice.
“The first reason why we came over was we watched this event last year on TV [when it was played at the picturesque Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria],” said the 24-year-old Texan. “Justine was like, ‘I think you really need to go over and play’.
“I love match play, and with how I played at Ryder Cup, it’s one of these events that if I got invited I definitely would come over. I’ve always wanted to come. I’ve never been to London before and always wanted to come over here and spend some time and just see different parts of the world in golf.
“To be part of the Volvo World Match Play, especially the 50th anniversary, means a lot, but also to my family and to come over and play means a lot. It would be a dream come true to win an event like this. To be a part of the history, a part of the guys that have won this event, just definitely means I’m moving in the right direction and playing some really good golf and that I’m on top of my game.”
The man Reed is trying to dethrone also won his singles match at Gleneagles, where Graeme McDowell rose to the challenge of being sent out first by Paul McGinley as he recovered from being down early on to beat Spieth. “I’m happy to be back in London where this tournament belongs,” said McDowell, who opens against Frenchman Alexander Levy, the winner of last weekend’s weather-affected Portugal Masters.
“I’m excited about my defence,” added the Northern Irishman, who retained the French Open title this year. “It’s nice to not have to switch gears from my couple weeks off from my match play frame of mind.
“I was able to keep the match play sort of switch flicked the last couple weeks, and look forward to coming into this week and continuing hopefully where I left off at Gleneagles and win a couple matches and get myself into the nitty gritty over the weekend.”
Despite the fact he plays mainly on the PGA Tour these days, McDowell sits 14th in the Race to Dubai and has his sights set on making a strong finish to the European Tour season.
“I guess I haven’t played a lot of golf since the FedEx, really,” reflected the 2010 US Open champion.
“I kind of hung my hat on my preparation for the Ryder Cup and ended up giving Wales a miss. Thankfully it worked out. I felt fresh and ready for the Ryder Cup and performed reasonably well.
“I’m coming here feeling appreciated and actually excited to play golf this week, which is cool.
“I’ll play both events in China and then obviously the Tour Championship in Dubai.
“So the goals are to try and get as far as I can this week and try and put some money on the board, and then go to China, obviously trying to chase my way into the top – I say the top five in the Race to Dubai.”