The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Tex.–Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed go from being partners to opponents in match play.
Spieth and Reed, who have a 7-2-2 record as partners in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, were drawn in the same four-man group last night for the Dell Technologies Match Play.
The World Golf Championship begins tomorrow at the Austin Country Club, where Spieth played when he was at the University of Texas.
Spieth has a 9-9-1 record in match play as a pro, going 0-5 in his singles matches at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
He is 9-4-1 in the Match Play.
Reed has an 8-6-2 record, and is best known for taking down Rory McIlroy in the last Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Spieth and Reed won’t play each other until Friday.
Also in their group are former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Li Haotong of China.
Round-robin play starts tomorrow, with the winners of 16 groups advancing to a weekend of single elimination.
Dustin Johnson, the defending champion, is the No. 1 seed for the second-straight year.
He has longtime friend Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin of Canada ,and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria in his group.
The opening session tomorrow has some compelling matches.
Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t played since winning the Mexico Championship, opens against Charles Howell III in the first round.
Howell has two PGA Tour victories–one of them in a playoff over Mickelson at Riviera.
Tommy Fleetwood faces Ian Poulter in an all-England match.
Poulter has to advance out of his group to have any chance of moving into the top 50 and qualifying for the Masters.
This is the final week for players to earn a Masters invitation through top 50 in the world ranking.
Poulter carried Europe to a stunning comeback in the Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012 when he made five-straight birdies to win a fourballs match, which ultimately swung momentum to Europe going into singles.
Poulter’s lone victory in America was the 2010 Match Play in Arizona when it was single elimination.
He was referred to as a “ninja” in match play during the draw.
“I’ve never gone up against a ninja in my life,” Fleetwood said, who wondered if he could find a book called “Karate for Dummies.”
He was driving to St. Andrews for the Dunhill Cup in 2012 and remembers well Poulter’s heroics at Medinah.
“Hopefully, it’s just a memory,” he said.
Rory McIlroy, coming of a victory Sunday at Bay Hill, gets Peter Uihlein in his opening match.
Also in McIlroy’s group are Brian Harman and Jhonattan Vegas.
Matt Kuchar will face Zach Johnson in the opening round.
They were partners one time, losing a foursomes match in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014.
Since going to group play in 2015 at Harding Park in San Francisco, two No. 1 seeds (McIlroy and Johnson) and a No. 2 seed (Jason Day) have won.
Anything goes with 18-hole matches, though having at least three matches allows a player to recover from a bad day.
Not that it makes it any easier to pick a favourite.
“This is as hard to win as trying to pick the Kentucky Derby winner,” Pat Perez said.
“I always pick the wrong horse.”
Among those skipping the event are Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, and Adam Scott, mainly for scheduling reasons.
Also missing is U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka as he recovers from a wrist injury.