Greason: Dynamic duos helped lead to Team USA success
Elizabeth Greason | Monday, October 2, 2017
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed work.
They just do.
I’m not sure why. But they do.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas work.
They just do.
Liberty National worked.
It just did.
This year’s Presidents Cup worked.
It just did.
Liberty National easily could have flopped as a location. Ferrying fans back and forth across the Hudson River to one of the country’s most exclusive and expensive country clubs posed a risk, but a risk that paid off. The backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower against some of the best golfers in the world truly made it seem as if the venue itself was cheering on Team USA.
Team USA was certainly considered the favorite going into the Presidents Cup — they had won six straight Cups going into 2017. But this year, with international team members toward the top of the World Rankings, like Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day, there were questions about whether Team USA would have a lock on retaining the Cup.
Those questions were quickly put to rest, in part due to the dynamic American duos that captain Steve Stricker came up with, and in part due to the absolutely dominant performance the Americans put on from the moment Thomas and Fowler stepped on the first tee to take on Charl Schwartzl and Matsuyama.
Fowler and Thomas are a combo that makes plenty of sense. Fowler is 28; Thomas is 24. While the two didn’t necessarily grow up playing together, they’ve certainly done their fair share of playing together — especially on their SB2K17 trip, this year’s spring break trip to Baker’s Bay in the Bahamas the two took together with Spieth and Smylie Kaufman.
Having friends play together doesn’t always work together in a high-pressure situation. But it worked this time. This Presidents Cup was the first time since the 2013 Walker Cup that Thomas had competed in a team event in the Ryder/Presidents Cup format. In the high-pressure, high-energy, sometimes hostile environment that sometimes describes the Presidents Cup, the pairing of Fowler and Thomas was a perfect one. And Thomas was clearly able to ride the momentum of his FedEx Cup win into the Presidents Cup, as the duo went 2-0-1 as a team, with their first win being one of the most resounding ones of the weekend, winning 6&4.
While the Fowler-Thomas grouping makes perfect sense when you think about it, the other dynamic duo of the week that turned heads was Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. Spieth and Reed have worked in the past and I still can’t quite figure out why. Reed and Spieth went 2-0-1 in the 2014 Ryder Cup before joining forces again in 2016 to go 2-1-1, topping Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, arguably Team Europe’s top squad, twice.
Then, they went 3-0-1 this year. But Patrick Reed might be one of the most disliked figures in professional golf. His cockiness and loud mouth have gotten him into trouble with fellow pros, fans and the media in the past. Whereas Jordan Spieth is one of golf’s most beloved figures, one of the sport’s heroes. Maybe it’s a sort of yin and yang situation. The two have said they’re very competitive with each other, as well as with their opponents, when they play. Whatever it is, the combination works. The Spieth-Reed highlight reel is long enough to make up a reel for the entire Cup. So, Steve Stricker, good call.
There were, of course, bright moments for the Internationals. But since Team USA went into the singles round with a 14.5 to 3.5 point lead, I’m going to have to say that Team USA — and its dynamic duos — were simply superior.
So, good job, Liberty National. Good job Rickie and Justin. Good job Jordan and Patrick. Good job Steve Stricker. And Phil … keep working on those selfies.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.