AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Anyone expecting a reprise of the Ryder Cup hostilities between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed when they are paired together in Sunday’s final round at the U.S. Masters will be disappointed, the American said on Saturday.
The leading duo are separated by three strokes with the rest of the field more than five shots off the pace but both went to great lengths not to discuss Sunday’s round in terms of a head-to-head match play duel for the Green Jacket.
“I’m not out there to play Rory, I’m out there to play the golf course,” said American Reed, who fired a spectacular third round five-under-par 67 to top the leaderboard on 14-under.
“At the end of the day, if I go out and I feel pleased with how I play, then, you know, it should be an enjoyable Sunday night.
“Really, it’s completely different. You’re talking about match play to stroke play and you’re also talking about you have Rickie (Fowler), Jon Rahm, (Henrik) Stenson, (Tommy) Fleetwood and Bubba (Watson) right behind us.
“I’m not going to be there focusing on Rory or really focusing on any of those guys. I’m just going to go out and try to play the golf course and try to play some good golf.”
Described by some as a fiery competitor and a blowhard showboater by others, Reed is one of golf’s more polarizing figures - no more so than when he is representing the United States on the international stage.
His brash fist-pumping and gesturing during the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine drew plenty of criticism, particularly during a contentious match with McIlroy when Reed taunted European fans by bringing his finger to his mouth telling them to shush.
“Honestly I don’t really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me,” he snarled.
“I’m out here to do my job, and that’s to play golf.”
Reed’s antics go down well with the home crowd, however, and there will be no shortage of backers in the galleries at Augusta National on Sunday.
The 27-year-old says he needs to be abrasive to keep himself energised and focused and it has brought him success in the form of five PGA Tour titles as well as his Ryder and President’s Cup performances.
“I feel like with that kind of fiery side of me, if I’m not playing that kind of golf I feel like if I hit that one shot, I can pump myself up and try to get going,” explained Reed.
“It’s just kind of one of those things that I’ve been working on it and trying to tap into Ryder Cups more and more and try to play some solid golf.”
Editing by Nick Mulvenney