AUSTIN, Texas — Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will play for Pool 4 supremacy Friday.
While the contest between Ryder Cup teammates to decide who advances in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play has been hyped and hoped for, the notion of a rivalry rematch seems a bit confusing.
After all, they’re highly successful teammates so what’s all the tension about?
Spieth initially seemed unsure why their “common pairing” at the team events would make for a great match-play duel. But then he explained the odd tension between the two compatriots.
“Normally you’re working together, but we want to beat each other every time,” Spieth said after defeating Haotong Li, 4 and 2, Thursday at Austin Country Club. “So even when we’ve been on the same team, it’s been a match against each other. In alternate shot, if we don’t win a hole, I want it to be his fault and he wants it to be my fault. So we’ve almost played every single match we’ve been involved in together against each other.”
Some good old-fashioned passive-aggressive Type A tension. Now we’re getting somewhere.
For Reed, who birdied the 18th hole to hold off Charl Schwartzel, 1 up, it’s all about giving the fans a show.
“Hopefully both of us go out and play really good golf and give all these fans something really fun to watch,” Reed said.
With strong winds forecast for Friday’s 2:32 p.m. Eastern match, Spieth expects a spirited duel between players who have each beaten the other in sudden-death playoffs.
“He’s a phenomenal putter. He really is, especially in this format where he putts aggressively,” Spieth said. “And he walks into every putt really looking like it’s going in. So you kind of want to have those putts to win the holes instead of him having that in his hand.”
As for their interactions leading up to Friday’s showdown, Spieth said he’s given Reed no extra incentive.
“I’ve been very nice to him this week,” he said.
One interested observer will be Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman faces Brian Harman at 10:52 a.m. Friday.
“Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it.” McIlroy said. “Penalty drops everywhere.”