AUSTIN, TEXAS – After taking a look at the brackets for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play earlier in the week, Jordan Spieth wondered aloud how random the draw might be.
Spieth had immediately noticed that he and Patrick Reed, who have worked together like red, white and blue in the Ryder Cup, were in the same four-player, round-robin pod, meaning one would likely have to go through the other to reach the round of 16 when this event enters its weekend knockout phase.
Throw in the spicy remark Patrick Reed made to a rules official when he didn’t get the decision he wanted during the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth,” Reed said – and the Friday match between Spieth and Reed can be cast as more than just a showdown with the winner moving into the weekend and loser going home.
Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.
Regardless, it sets up as the most compelling match of the convoluted round-robin portion of this event (it begins at 1:32 p.m. EDT).
“I have a lot of interest in that,” Rory McIlroy said. “Hopefully I can get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”
While some players have already played themselves out of the weekend – world No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson is one of those – it feels as if the first two days at Austin Country Club have been quietly building toward this.
Spieth joked earlier in the week that one of the keys to playing Reed is not to make him angry.
“I’ve been very nice to him this week,” Spieth said Thursday after bumping off Li Haotong, 4 and 2, to improve his record to 2-0 in round-robin play.
Reed is also 2-0 after beating Charl Schwartzel, 1 up, on Thursday.
As the old saying goes, something – or someone – has got to give.
“It’s going to be fun,” Reed said.
To hear Spieth tell it, their head-to-head match may not be much different than when they’re teammates.
“Tiger says it’s a phenomenon,” Spieth said. “Normally you’re working together but we want to beat each other every time. It’s been a match against each other.
“If we don’t win a hole, I want it to be his fault and he wants it to be my fault. We’ve almost played every single match we’ve been involved in together against each other. We just happen to be wearing the same colors a lot of those matches.”