'Captain America' Reed can't shield himself from Ryder Cup criticism

Captain America wields a shield that is practically indestructible, which will come in handy for Patrick Reed if he should try to deflect the criticism that looks set to come his way amid a dismal Ryder Cup.

The Masters champion – whose nickname is taken from the superhero – was involved in Team USA's only loss in Friday's fourballs, pairing up with Tiger Woods in a 3 and 1 reverse to Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.

While the inspired European duo's chemistry was evident, Reed and Woods made for a considerably less convincing twosome.

Despite that, they returned to Le Golf National on Saturday to compete together in the same format and this time the result was worse. Far worse.

A 4 and 3 loss tells part of the sorry story, but across the 15 holes he played, Reed ventured to areas of the course no professional has ever had to tread.

He went left, he went right, he went long – and came up so far short of his own legend that you have to wonder if it was really Patrick Reed at all.

In practice before the start of play, Reed had virtually no interaction with the team. He chipped a few, putted a few more, then went to hit some down the range, having positioned himself conspicuously between two European rivals. 

When he made his way back to the range after another chastening loss, he stood alone at one end, earphones in, and went unacknowledged by Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth when they arrived to warm up for their foursomes match.

Perhaps it is a stretch to read too much into that, but it is hard to imagine Ian Poulter – considered Reed's European equivalent in Ryder Cup terms - doing the same.

Reed is supposed to be America's talisman in this event, the one who can generate momentum with one swing of the blade or pump of his fists.

But he has been a far smaller presence in France than he was at Hazeltine or Gleneagles, failing for once to rise to the occasion of this titanic tussle between country and continent.

A frustrated Woods spoke candidly after enduring his own troubles across the first two days, having twice played and lost alongside Reed, and it is not particularly difficult to read between the lines of what he said.

"Just pretty p***** off, the fact that I lost three matches, and didn't feel like I played poorly," he said.

"That's the frustrating thing about matchplay. We can play well and nothing can happen."

On Sunday, Reed will put his perfect singles record on the line against Tyrrell Hatton, and the rookie - who impressed with Paul Casey in two fourball contests - will surely fancy his chances.

The 28-year-old desperately needs a point to salvage some personal pride, but even that won't shield him from the inquest that will inevitably follow should the USA end up losing their grip on this famous trophy.

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