The aftermath of last month’s Ryder Cup included a lot of Patrick Reed drama, but in his first start since the American disappointment in Paris, Reed made an emphatic statement that there would be no lingering ill effects of his play in France.
The reigning Masters champion fired a bogey-free 8-under par 64 in the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai to take a two-shot lead over Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.
“It felt really good, because if you can go out and shoot rounds like that in these kinds of conditions, you know you’re going to have confidence when the wind dies down and there are perfect conditions out there,” Reed said.
“I was hitting the ball really solid. I was hitting irons where I was looking and I was able to control it, not only directional-wise but also trajectories and what kind of heights I wanted to hit it. I felt like that was key because when it’s windy like that, you have to have full control over it. And I was able to do that.”
How does “full control” bear out for Reed statistically? The 15th-ranked player in the world hit 12 of 14 fairways and all 18 greens en route to his 64. Reed birdied four of his first seven holes on his first nine starting off the 10th tee and then birdied the first three holes on the front nine on his way into the clubhouse.
Playing the par-4 9th hole as his last of the day, Reed played the hardest hole on the course perfectly, rolling in a 20-footer for birdie to cap off his round.
While Finau and Schauffele are his closest pursuers, a bevy of big names will be attempting to make up ground over the next three days in China. Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Ian Poulter are five back at 3-under par, while Jason Day is seven back at 1-under par and Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama are all eight shots back after opening-round 72s.