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Posted September 17, 2020 04:09 pm
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Patrick Reed one-hops an ace en route to a 66 at U.S. Open

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    Patrick Reed watches his tee shot on the 6th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club - West in Mamaroneck, New York. [Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports]

All the talk heading into the 120th edition of the U.S. Open was about overzealous rough and lightning-fast greens that would make it nearly impossible to score on Winged Foot Golf Club.

Looking for a strategy to overcome those obstacles?

Patrick Reed devised a beauty — one-hopping a hole-in-one on No. 7, which is listed at 162 yards. It was the second ace of his career and first in five years. It's the 46th hole-in-one at the U.S. Open.

But the ace served as a kick-start, pushing Reed to an impressive 4 under 66 that had him near the top of the leaderboard at the end of the round's early flight.

The pin was playing in the back left on No. 7, with a ridge behind the hole. That meant Reed could be a little more aggressive.

"I knew that if I hit it a little too hard, it's going to kind of bounce and use that backstop, going to be able to come down. And the biggest thing was make sure it enters from the right because it could kick left," he said. "Yeah, I hit a perfect 90 percenter, and I think it one- or two-hopped in.

"Of course, I was excited about it, but really I knew from that point that, hey, you need to settle out, get ready for the next hole. Around here at Winged Foot, every golf shot you have to take full — basically pay attention to because you hit one poor golf shot, a lot of things can happen out here."

Reed has one major under his belt — the 2018 Masters — but has never finished higher than fourth at the U.S. Open. He had posted a double-bogey on No. 5 and then birdied No. 6 before the ace.

But that's when he got things cranked up. Reed, the Augusta State product, posted birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 15 to finish at 66, a number he assumed at daybreak was unachievable.

"Honestly, I did not see that many guys being under par so far. Even with the pin placements and the course setup and with the greens being soft, it's still a hard golf course. You get in the rough, it's hard to get the ball on the green," Reed said. "The fairways here, they're not that generous. They're pretty narrow and they have some spring in them, so a lot of balls were kind of landing and getting through it. But fortunate enough to go out there and shoot 66, and go out there and get a little work in this afternoon and get ready for tomorrow."

And what if the course firms up a bit this weekend, and the pin placements aren't as inviting?

"You know, I love hard golf courses. I think it separates the top golfers compared to the rest of the field. Also, I think it separates the guys that can use creativity and can handle adversity. Out there you're going to hit some quality golf shots that are either going to have a bad bounce, end bad up in a bad spot, or going to land on the green, catch a ridge, go down. How do you react to that, handle do you it," he said.

"And I feel always been very good forgetting what happened in the past, forgetting what happened on that one shot and move on and focus and what's coming up."