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ERIN, Wis. -- Patrick Reed has always been at his best when he's been playing for his country. Playing for his country's championship suited him quite well, too, on Saturday.
One of America's top Ryder Cup players drenched himself in red, white and blue -- including the pants with the "USA" logo that he wore at Hazeltine last year -- then plowed his way through Erin Hills over the third round of the U.S. Open.
He shot 7-under 65 to finish at 8 under. It would have been the round of the day had Justin Thomas not shot 63, matching the best number ever posted at a major. Thomas finished at 11 under, one shot behind third-round leader Brian Harman.
The 26-year-old Reed, who has posted six wins and earned seven points for the United States over the last two Ryder Cups, has not been able to find the same success at the majors. He's never had a top-10 finish.
He is in the mix now, in large part, he thinks, because he didn't press too hard.
"My first two years, every time I got to the majors, I worked too hard Monday through Wednesday, and by Saturday, I was tired," he said. "And then, also, I was living and dying by every golf shot, every putt and everything. Coming into this year, I was just like, 'It's another golf tournament. Show up. Do what you do on a normal event and just play golf.'"
But if he was trying to be low-key, it certainly didn't show -- either by how he played or what he wore.
He said his wife, Justine, his mother-in-law and sister-in-law are his wardrobe consultants for the week, and they chose red, white and blue for the national championship.
The lower his score went, the more he got noticed.
Walking down the fairways to shouts of "Captain America" and "USA, USA," Reed strung together three straight birdies to get to 8 under -- hitting delicate chips up the hills on the 14th and 15th greens for putts inside of 12 feet, then making a 20-footer on No. 16. His birdie putt on No. 18 rimmed out or it would have been even better.
Still, Reed was looking at the opportunities ahead, not what might have been.
"That's really all I could ask for, is get myself in a position where if I go out and have a good round tomorrow, I win a golf tournament," Reed said.
The questions afterward mostly centered on how to transfer the good vibe he always brings to the team events and put it to work when he's playing for himself in a major.
"You always can take that fire from Ryder Cup and use it in other events," he said. "But you're talking polar opposites. You're talking one-on-one competition against (competition against) 155 (players). And because of that, you can go out and play some great golf, but you have a bunch of guys out there that can play some good golf, as well."
Most players readily concede that they're as nervous as they get when matches are on the line at the Ryder Cup -- or when it's time to strike their very first tee shot of the week.
Now, Reed will get to compare that pressure to the pressure of contending at the U.S. Open on Sunday.
"I really haven't had much U.S. Open pressure considering I teed off at 10:49," he said of his early Saturday tee time. "But to me, it's going to basically all kind of be the same. Just go out there and play my game plan, stick to what I know and just go play some golf."