A strange year has just got stranger still. Who would ever thought that Patrick Reed – AKA Captain America, the patriot who refuses to bow to the Ryder Cup’s blue-and-gold brigade — would be considered a pariah on the PGA Tour but welcomed as a hero on the European Tour?

The respect he is being accorded at this BMW PGA Championship is well deserved. If Reed, 30, had decided to stay on Stateside – and so follow the lead of every other big-named American and one or two big-named Europeans – then this flagship event would be without a member of the world’s top 10 for the first time since the inauguration of the rankings 34 years ago. 

But No 9 is here and the Tour are very grateful.

Of course, there are plenty in this BMW PGA Championship here on the West Course who have their own opinions about Reed and his sometimes cavalier attitude to the rulebook, which reached a peak at last year’s Hero World Challenge, where he twice moved sand behind his ball in a waste area and then shamelessly denied he was trying to gain an advantage. 

Yet to a man they were all congratulating him on Wednesday for saving the dignity of a proud, 65-year-old tournament won by the likes of Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and more recently Rory McIlroy. 

“There is obviously an easy excuse at the moment for people not to travel  and get on planes,” Justin Rose said. “Let’s be honest, we are all using it [coronavirus] as an excuse not to do things if we don’t have to. So every credit to Patrick for showing up.”

Reed ummed and ahhed and missed the official entry deadline, but eventually was convinced by three factors to accept a sponsor’s invite – the Tour, itself, the venue and the Race to Dubai. He leads the latter and is fully committed to lifting the Harry Vardon Trophy in Dubai in December.

“It was a tough decision, a long decision, but the European Tour has been good to me – they made me an honorary lifetime member last year [after his 2018 Masters win] – and it wouldn’t have felt right not coming over and supporting them at their biggest event of the tear,” he said. “This is something where the entire world is struggling, and to be able to support someone other than just my home in Houston, in Texas, was something that I feel like needed to be done. 

“Yeah, with the purses and the ranking points that we play for in the States, the easy thing would be to play on the PGA Tour full-time only. But that’s not who I am. I see myself as a guy who plays worldwide and always been a dream of mine to win over here, win the Race to Dubai, win the FedEx Cup, win as many majors as I can and just try to collect hardware.

“I loved playing here last year [when he finished fourth behind England’s Danny Willett] and even though the course is softer because of the time of year and all the rain, it’s still in perfect shape and  demands you hit quality shots. I’m confident and expecting big things.”

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