Austin, Texas — Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed enjoy few things more than trying to beat each other, and that’s when they are partners. The stakes are even higher in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Win or go home.
Spieth and Reed did their part Thursday by winning their matches for a second straight day to set up a showdown on the skirts of Hill Country in Texas. They play today to determine who wins the group and advances to the weekend of this World Golf Championship.
Reed fired the first shot when asked what made Spieth a good opponent in match play.
“I don’t know. My back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” he said with a laugh, alluding to the way he carried Spieth in their partnership at Hazeltine to a 2-1-1 record in team play during a rare American victory.
Spieth dodged trouble early against Li Haotong, who missed putts inside 8 feet on two of the opening three holes, won the second hole when Spieth hit into the hazard and thought he won the fourth hole until Spieth matched his birdie by chipping in from short of the green.
Spieth never trailed and pulled away with a savvy play on the par-4 13th over the water and into the wind. He hit driver well to the right toward the gallery, which gave him a clear look at the green without having to hit over any of the lake. His pitch-and-run settled a foot away for birdie and a 2-up lead, and Spieth closed him out, 4 and 2.
Right behind was Reed in his match against Charl Schwartzel, and the South African was 2 up at the turn until Reed won the next two holes to set up a tight finish. Schwartzel stayed 1 down when he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 17th. Needing a birdie on the 18th to halve, Schwartzel could only watch as Reed hit a wedge that nearly went in and stopped a few inches away.
Reed and Spieth are 7-2-2 as partners in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. They are 1-1 in PGA Tour playoffs, with Reed hitting through the greens to short birdie range when he won the Wyndham Championship in 2013, and Spieth returning the favor in 2015 at Innisbrook by winning a playoff with a 30-foot putt.
They don’t have much of a relationship except in team competitions, and even then it’s unusual.
“Because we’re so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That’s what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it’s a phenomenon. It’s not something that he’s used to seeing in those team events.”