NEW YORK, Sept 18 — There was no crowd to roar when Patrick Reed made his hole-in-one in yesterday's first round of the 120th US Open, and the 2018 Masters champion never even saw the ball drop into the hole.
But it didn’t make the ace any less special for the 30-year-old American when he managed the feat at the 165-yard par-3 seventh hole at Winged Foot to stand second at the major showdown in suburban New York.
Spectators were not allowed inside the course due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the tournament to be postponed from June and reshuffled the global golf calendar.
“It was unfortunate the fans weren’t here because that would have been an awesome experience,” Reed said.
“It would have been nuts. Up here in New York, the fans are amazing. You go ahead and you hole out from the fairway, you make a hole-in-one, the fans will just go crazy.
“But at the same time, an ace is an ace. I’ll take it either way. But it was just kind of one of those things that once it went in, I was like, all right, let’s move on, get ready for the next tee shot. From that point on, my focus was more on the next hole.”
Reed didn’t have the only ace of the day at the seventh, with American Will Zalatoris also sinking his tee shot there. He heard no fans cheering either as his shot bounced twice and rolled into the cup.
Being able to maintain focus after good shots and bad has become a trademark for Reed, the self-styled Captain America whose ear-cupping antics and success have made him a Ryder Cup fan favourite.
It didn’t hurt in his four-under par 66 yesterday that put him in the early hunt for a US Open crown on a course expected to play much tougher.
“I love hard golf courses,” Reed said. “It separates the top golfers compared to the rest of the field. Also it separates the guys that can use creativity and can handle adversity.
“Out there you’re going to hit some quality golf shots that are either going to have a bad bounce, end bad up in a bad spot... How do you react to that. I’ve always been very good forgetting what happened in the past and move on and focus and what’s coming up.”
Reed shrugged off a double-bogey at the fifth hole and birdied the sixth, setting the stage for his second ace as a professional after another in Houston in 2016.
“I had 166 yards, and from there I was thinking, just kind of a stock 9-iron,” Reed said.
“I knew if I hit it a little too hard, it’s going to kind of bounce... I hit a perfect 90-per centre, and I think it one-hopped in. We couldn’t see how many hops it took. But it went in.”
The joy of the moment, Reed said, was deeply felt but short lived.
“Of course I was excited about it, but really I knew from that point you need to settle out, get ready for the next hole,” Reed said. “You hit one poor golf shot, a lot of things can happen out here.”
‘Kind of a hack out’
Reed, whose best result in six prior US Opens was fourth in 2018, also made an impressive par save on 17, blasting out of dense rough to two feet for a tap-in par.
“Really the shot on 17, it was like 203 to the front, 230 flag, and I could get a lot of club on the back of the ball,” Reed said.
“It was kind of a hack-out, and the hybrid came out way better than I expected.”
Reed says he plans to keep being aggressive.
“You’ve just got to continue attacking,” he said. “If you let up at all or try to play conservative, that’s when also you can get in trouble here.” — AFP