AUGUSTA, Ga. – Yes, Patrick Reed noticed the patrons at Augusta National cheered louder for Rory McIlroy. No, he didn’t care. Yes, he used it as motivation.
When Reed walked onto the first tee box Sunday afternoon to begin his quest for his first green jacket, he received nice applause. When McIlroy walked onto the tee, the applause was turned up a notch.
“That’s another thing that just kind of played into my hand,” Reed said afterward. “Not only did it fuel my fire a little bit, but also, it just takes the pressure off of me and adds it back to him.”
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The atmosphere was different than it was two years ago when the two went head to head in a singles match in the Ryder Cup in Minnesota. On that chilly day at Hazeltine, Reed was the Americans’ top dog and McIlroy was public enemy No. 1.
Reed had an interesting theory.
“I don’t think it’s really as much a popularity thing with the fans as it is that Rory has been in this position before to win here,” Reed said. “He’s played some really solid golf here. A lot of people were wanting him to win to get that career Grand Slam.
“Almost felt like a Ryder Cup. When I was overseas, they will cheer for good golf no matter what. It’s the same thing here. If you hit quality golf shots, they are going to cheer.”