Will the US Ryder Cup team be forced to take to the fairways in next month’s match without the character they call Captain America? That is the fear for many of the home side’s fans after it has been revealed that Patrick Reed is suffering from double pneumonia.
Reed, 31, pulled out last week’s Northern Trust Championship with an ankle complaint, but while being assessed by a doctor it was discovered he had an infection in both lungs. Reed was admitted to a hospital in his home city of Houston, from which he released this upbeat statement.
“I’m on the road to recovery,” Reed said. “Once I’m cleared from the doctors, I look forward to returning. I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Reed is obviously not playing in this week’s penultimate FedEx play-off event, meaning he cannot qualify for next week’s Tour Championship. As a result, Reed will not be able to qualify by right for the US team that will seek to win back the cup at Whistling Straits in four weeks’ time.
However, there are six wildcards up for grabs, although Steve Stricker, the US captain, is due to name these after the conclusion of the FedEx finale and it must be queried whether there will be any certainty over Reed’s health by then.
Reed is currently 10th in the US standings and despite the controversy of 2018 – when he railed against then captain Jim Furyk for sitting him out for two sessions and pointed the finger at Jordan Spieth for ending their successful partnership – he was considered a shoo-in for a spot in Wisconsin.
The 2018 Masters champion has won eight out of 12 points and has easily the best percentage of any active American who has played three matches or more. Reed’s self-styled nickname is merited and he would be a big loss.
It has become an increasingly muddied picture for Stricker, more so after Tony Finau finally ended his five-year, 142-event wait for a trophy at the weather-delayed Northern Trust in New York on Monday.
Finau’s play-off victory over Australian Cam Smith saw him jump from 12th to sixth, forcing Olympic champion Xander Schauffele out of the automatic places. Finau, 31, conceded that it was his determination to make a second appearance in the Ryder Cup that was his main motivation in addressing the bizarre barren run that saw him rack up eight runner-up spots – three in play-offs – and 11 top threes.
“Starting the year and every week that has gone by, for me my case is that I have to win,” Finau said. “I put that in the back of my head and I told myself: ‘If you don’t win, you’re not going to make the team’. Although I’ve always been high in the rankings, I wanted this validation more I think for myself to be a part of a team as a winner this season and playing good golf going into the Ryder Cup.”
Finau also hurtled up the FedEx standings and in first place now has the $15m (£10.9m) bonus in his sights. Seventy players have advanced to the BMW Championship, that begins on Thursday, with the top 30 in the standings after the Baltimore tournament progressinf to Atlanta.
Rory McIlroy is 28th and in a fight to ensure he does not miss just his second Tour Championship in eight years. McIlroy’s tie for 43rd in New York means that the 32-year-old slips to world No 16 and out of the top 15 in the rankings for the first time in almost 12 years.