JERSEY CITY, N.J. – If fans wanted to see lots of birdies from the U.S. superhero duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, they would’ve been disappointed Thursday at the Presidents Cup. But for those who wanted to see victory, Spieth and Reed delivered, beating Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim, 5 and 4, in foursomes.
It was a picturesque day at Liberty National, well, expect for the gusty winds that made scoring difficult. Spieth, Reed, Grillo and Kim combined to hit just one fairway in their first five holes, though the Americans figured things out after. The Internationals, however, hit just three all day while putting two balls in the water.
Four birdies were made in total, three by the U.S. team. The Americans shot even par in 14 holes while the Internationals were at least 5 over.
“It was so difficult,” Spieth said. “We only had a few bad shots as a group. I think we shot even. … That was a tremendous score. That would have been a great individual score on a day like today in the tournament, and it was going to win most every match.”
The Americans’ short game shined and carried them over the finish line. Spieth had a nice lag at the par-5 fourth to earn a conceded birdie, the first of four straight hole victories for the Americans, who were 4 up after seven holes.
The International clawed back to 2 down through 10 holes, but Spieth made a huge par save from 33 feet at the par-4 11th hole to seize back the momentum. The U.S. won the two of the next three holes as Grillo and Kim each missed putts from inside of 4 feet, Grillo at No. 12 and Kim at No. 14.
“Other than the flip on 11, this was a pretty boring day for us,” Spieth said, “but boring is what we needed today.”
Said Reed: “Everyone thinks you need a lot of birdies to win, but when you’re playing alternate shot and it’s blowing like this, pars get it done.”
After seeing their lead shrink from 4 up to 2 up after 10 holes and facing a potential loss at the par-4 11th hole, Spieth drained a 33-footer to save par while Grillo missed a 15-footer to halve the hole.
“It was a double-breaker,” Spieth said of the putt. “I had to start it about a foot out left and it’s all about the pace. They hit a chip that was in a little bit of trouble, and they were going to have a pretty tricky putt. I thought, you know, we get off this green still 2 up by just hitting a nice putt down there, and then we’re going to be OK. We got through our little stretch of not so good golf.
“As it was coasting down, it took the break that I saw on it, with about 5-6 feet to go and just got outside the right edge to take the next turn left, which was a double-breaker. As it took that turn, I put my putter up and kind of looked away and then I went up so early to make sure it went in, but it was a really cool putt. It was the difference in our match.”
Spieth was stellar on the greens Thursday. He started with a nice lag to earn a conceded birdie at the par-5 fourth hole. Then he made a 10-footer for birdie to halve the par-5 ninth. Of course, there was his bomb at the 11th, but his 5-footer to save par and halve the par-4 13th was big, as well.
Spieth’s par putt at the 11th was nice and no doubt the shot of the match, but his drive at the short par-4 12th was important, as well. And it set up a difficult chip by Reed, which he pulled off impressively to give Spieth a 3-footer for birdie.
Spieth now moves to 4-0 in foursomes play at the Presidents Cup, the only player in U.S. history to win his first four matches in the format at this event. … Spieth and Reed are now 6-1-2 as a team in Presidents and Ryder cups.