Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed advance in Dell Technologies Match Play
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed play some of their most spirited golf against one another in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, remarkable only because they're on the same team.
Now they're opponents. And the stakes in the Dell Technologies Match Play are personal.
The loser goes home.
The most intriguing match that came out of the draw at the start of the week was packed with significance Thursday when Spieth and Reed won matches for the second straight day to set up a showdown on the skirts of Hill Country in Texas.
They play Friday, one of four matches between players who have yet to lose this week at Austin Country Club.
Reed fired the first shot when asked what made Spieth a good opponent in match play.
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 8-1-3 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.
Still alive, but still needing some help, were Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy had an easy time beating Vegas, while Brian Harman knocked out Peter Uihlein in the other match in their group. Harman will win the group if he beats McIlroy on Friday; McIlroy has to win to have any chance of making it to the weekend, and it likely would involve a playoff.
Mickelson, who lost to Charles Howell III in the opening round, rallied from 4 down after eight holes and won the last three holes to beat Satoshi Kodaira, who missed putts in the 10-foot range on all of them.
Mickelson is coming off a victory in the last World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and found himself lacking energy and enthusiasm in his loss to Howell, and in fall behind to Kodaira. He attributed it to a bad attitude.
"And you know what happens when you walk with your head down — animals, they get eaten," Mickelson said.