As the clock spun toward 9:50 a.m. Sunday the crowd eyeing Patrick Reed warm up for his final round tee time at the 3M Open swelled.
Whispers buzzed through the camera-phone-wielding mass. Yes, many affirmed, that is Reed down the way wearing the red shirt with blue splotches and just enough to white trim to call it a patriotic gesture. That is Captain America, the U.S. Ryder Cup icon who in 2016 battled Europe's Rory McIlroy head to head at Hazeltine National, each making seemingly miles worth of putts in their Sunday singles instant classic.
That's the two-time Olympian.
Reed lumbered up a small hill to the first tee box in polite silence. A squeaky voice broke the quiet.
"Good luck in the Olympics!" a shy but determined 9-year-old, Emmett Oliver from Ramsey, said just loud enough for Reed to hear. Reed grinned, and flicked a quick thumbs-up.
Just 12 hours earlier, word spread that Bryson DeChambeau had tested positive for COVID-19 before the Olympic men's golf competition in Tokyo. Reed, who also represented Team USA in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, would be the last-minute replacement.
Not one to quit, Reed fulfilled his commitment to the 3M Open, shot even par on Sunday then turned all of his attention toward an unexpected jaunt to Japan.
"Anytime I can represent my country and go play for my country, I'm going to do it no matter what, no matter where it is, no matter what time zone or how I have to get there or anything," said Reed, who has to pass three COVID-19 tests before he can officially compete. "To be able to call myself not just an Olympian but a two-time Olympian is pretty sweet. I look forward to going over there and playing."
Reed was in a post-round scoring tent at TPC Twin Cities on Saturday afternoon when the call came in from PGA Tour executive Andy Levinson that something was up.
"I didn't know who or what, but I knew being first man up that I was going to have that potential of getting that call and go represent our country," Reed said.
In Rio, Reed placed 11th and finished six shots back of a bronze medal.
Before he tries to better that mark at Kasumigaseki Country Club, he'll board a plane Tuesday morning in Houston, stop off in San Francisco then drift toward Tokyo with no time after he lands to squeeze in a practice round.
"It's already awesome to be called an Olympian, but to be called a gold medalist, silver medalist or bronze medalist, it would mean a lot," Reed said.
"I know things are going to be a little different this time. But to be able to go ... out there and try to bring home gold is just an honor I can't pass up."