PGA TOUR

Patrick Reed bests Jordan Spieth in battle of friends at WGC-Dell Match Play

American Matt Kuchar drills electric hole-in-one on par-3 seventh in Round 3 win

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AUSTIN — Patrick Reed decided to putt from the fringe. It ended with a slam dunk in the hole and a friendly handshake. 

The outgoing Reed beat friend and Ryder Cup partner Jordan Spieth 2-and-1 on Friday, draining a putt from just off the green on the par-3 17th to move on to the Round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Match Play. 

“I was just thinking to myself, just get it to the hole,” Reed said. “Worst case scenario, you have an uphill putt coming back. Just kind of the range I had, I'm sitting there thinking two putts to win the match. Just happened to be the perfect line. Thank God because that thing was moving.”

Reed will face off with Alex Noren, who beat Tony Finau 1 up thanks to a birdie on the 17th hole, beginning at 8:25 a.m. on Saturday. 

Spieth opened with back-to-back double bogeys and Rood took advantage, jumping out to a two-hole lead. The former Longhorn birdied the par-4 fifth and par-4 ninth to get within one both times. 

He stuck his approach to within two feet of the hole on the par-4 10th and birdied to even the match. 

“I felt I was very cool today, especially given the start,” Spieth said. “It wasn't necessarily because it was Patrick. We certainly have familiarity, but neither one of us played great golf today. One of us played just a little bit better. 

“But I had great control of my emotions, I felt like. I was positive at times where I could have gone the other way and have in the past.”

Reed won the following hole to retake the lead for good. He took control of the match at the par-4 13th, slamming his approach to two feet and making the birdie putt. Spieth two-putted for par. 

“I feel like did momentum for most of the front nine,” Reed said. “I felt like the momentum switched his way. To go ahead and win No. 11 and to kind of capitalize on No. 13 like that, I felt like from that point on all the momentum was in my favor.”

The duo made a name for themselves at the 2016 Ryder Cup, teaming up to help the U.S beat the Europeans. Reed won his first PGA Tour tournament by beating Spieth in a playoff in 2013. Spieth returns the favor in 2015 in a playoff win over Reed and Sean O’Hair.

“I don't think it would have been that tough to beat me today,” Spieth said. “I just didn't have a really good day. You know, sometimes that happens. I just got a little off. Patrick is a great competitor. I felt like I fought hard around the middle of that match and then I just didn't quite have it today.”

Reed is one of seven players to win all three round-robin matches, joining Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell III, Noren, Ian Poulter and Justin Thomas.

Defending WGC-Dell Match Play champion Dustin Johnson and runner-up Jon Rahm both will not advance after a combined 0-5-1 record in group play, with Rahm accounting for the half-point.

Spieth and Reed have been paid together 12 times between the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup and have an 8-1-3 record as a pair. Friday’s excitement level lives up to expectations. 

“Of course it was exciting to play Jordan,” Reed said. “Really I think no matter who you are playing when it's a literally a winner-move-on format, you are going to get excited about it. It was just one of those days that with how the conditions weren’t fun. 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.”

While Spieth and Reed stole the headlines, Matt Kuchar had the shot of the day. 

The American’s shot on the 201-yard, par-3 seventh bounced a couple times in from the pin on the right side of the green and snuck in for a hole-in-one. Kuchar won the match against Ross Fisher and the group and will face off with Kevin Kisner at 8:47 a.m. in the Round of 16. 

“When I hit the ball, I knew it was a good line and had potential to be close for a good-looking birdie,” Kuchar said. “As it kept rolling, it kept getting closer and closer and finally it disappeared. And it was fun to be up at elevation and see the ball the entire way and see it disappear. That's always a special thing in the game of golf.”

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