AUSTIN, TEXAS – Consider the old adage that what seems too good to be true usually is.
That was the case in the much-anticipated Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed winner-stays-up battle in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Friday at Austin Country Club.
It didn’t match the hype.
Reed advanced to the round of 16 with a 2-and-1 victory over Spieth but it was hardly a thing of beauty.
“I don’t feel like his match-play toughness had much to do with the match today,” Spieth said.
That’s because Spieth continued to chase his game, and his multiple mistakes bit him. He hit his opening tee shot out of bounds, hit his approach shot on the second hole into a hazard and hit his approach shot on the third hole into another hazard.
Toss in three three-putt greens and Reed didn’t need his full match-play mojo to move into the weekend knockout round.
“It was just one of those days that with how the conditions were, it wasn’t fun. I mean, with how windy it was, it was hard – it was a grinder’s day out there,” Reed said.
“You weren’t going to see a ton of birdies. There’s going to be just who doesn’t make some mistakes, who’s able to grind out some pars and maybe make a birdie here or there.”
That was what Reed did.
Spieth clawed back into the match with consecutive birdies at the ninth and 10th holes but rinsed his tee shot on the par-3 11th to fall 1 down again shortly before he three-putted the par-5 12th for par to waste another chance. A birdie by Reed at the 13th gave him a 2-up lead that Spieth could not erase.
“With how the conditions are, with how windy it is, you have to maximize when someone makes a mistake. I was able to do that and I was able to minimize my mistakes pretty good,” Reed said.
Spieth said he arrived in Austin with relatively low expectations and will go to the Houston Open next week still searching for the form that has eluded him much of this season. He was not the only big name to miss the weekend.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson was eliminated before he lost to Kevin Kisner Friday while Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Jason Day also missed out on the weekend. Should Justin Thomas reach the Match Play final, he will supplant Johnson as the No. 1 player in the world.
On one side of the bracket, the round of 16 matches will pit:
Justin Thomas vs. Si Woo Kim;
Sergio Garcia vs. Kyle Stanley;
Kiradech Aphibarnrat vs. Charles Howell III;
Bubba Watson vs. Brian Harman.
On the other side of the bracket:
Kevin Kisner vs. Matt Kuchar;
Louis Oosthuizen vs. Ian Poulter;
Patrick Reed vs. Alex Noren;
Cam Smith vs. Tyrrell Hatton.
Reed’s match-clinching birdie putt from off the green at 17 was impressive:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 23, 2018