Golf: Reed and Laird set pace at Bethpage, Day two back

Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:42am EDT
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(Reuters) - Patrick Reed gave his Ryder Cup hopes a timely boost as he charged into a share of the first-round lead at The Barclays on Thursday with defending champion Jason Day in hot pursuit, two strokes back.

American Reed opened with a sizzling five-under-par 66 in the first of the PGA Tour's four lucrative FedExCup playoff events, finishing level with Scotland's Martin Laird on a sunny but breezy day at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York.

World number one Day, who triumphed by six shots last year when the tournament was held at Plainfield Country Club, returned a 68 while fellow golfing heavyweights Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy carded 71s.

"It was a clean day," Reed, a four-times winner on the PGA Tour, told reporters after a bogey-free round that also included an eagle and three birdies, all of them coming on his homeward nine. "I feel like I hit the ball pretty solid.

"All the shots I hit, even though (they) might not have been down some of the lines I wanted to, I was still in the fairway and still on the greens, so I was still able to attack."

Reed is scrambling for one of the last three automatic spots on the United States Ryder Cup team to take on holders Europe at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Spieth, Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and Ryder rookie Brooks Koepka have already secured their berths, with the final three automatic selections to be decided after The Barclays.

Reed, who sits eighth in the Cup standings, is vying with players such as Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Watson and Olympic bronze medallist Matt Kuchar for those spots.

"Of course it's on my mind," Reed said of his Cup bid. "But really at the end the day, it's just trying to get better and play this tournament. If I play well, that means those other guys are going to have to play even better to try to catch me."   Continued...

Aug 25, 2016; Farmingdale, NY, USA; Patrick Reed putts on the 10th green during the first round of The Barclays golf tournament at Bethpage State Park - Black Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports