Presidents Cup: Reed, Spieth fight to earn halve with Matsuyama, Hadwin

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Presidents Cup: Reed, Spieth fight to earn halve with Matsuyama, Hadwin

PGA Tour

Presidents Cup: Reed, Spieth fight to earn halve with Matsuyama, Hadwin

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – International captain Nick Price was concerned about Hideki Matsuyama after the World No. 3’s performance alongside Charl Schwartzel in Thursday’s 6-and-4 foursomes loss to Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.

“I think he still may be reeling a little bit from the PGA and that,” Price said Thursday evening. “And also, you know, he’s had such a huge year. I think he’s probably a little tired.”

Price hoped to light a spark in his Japanese star by pairing him with arguably the team’s best putter, Canadian rookie Adam Hadwin. And early on Friday against the stout U.S. duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, it worked.

But then, it didn’t. Matsuyama cooled off and the Americans heated up, rallying to earn a halve and contribute to an 8-2 U.S. lead after two days of play at the 12th Presidents Cup.

It was nearly a full point. Spieth had a 19-footer for birdie at the par-3 18th hole at Liberty National, but his putt caught the left edge and lipped out.

“It is a dream putt for me,” Spieth said. “I love that range and I love that kind of putt. With about 3 feet to go, I thought I just needed to see a little bit of straighten in it for it to go right in the middle, and it just held on that left side and just took a dirty lipout. It had the right pace on it. Thought it would go in. Unlucky.”

Spieth had scared the hole at the par-4 17th, too, his birdie putt just missing right from 8 feet. But the U.S. pair were able to make some crucial putts. Reed canned a 16-foot birdie on the 15th hole and Spieth followed by sinking a tricky breaking putt from 7 feet for birdie at the 16th. Those two putts swung the match from 2 up in favor of the Internationals to all square.

“I knew if I made one, it would jump-start this guy and he would just go on a tear,” Reed said. “You know, making that one on 15 and that iron shot he hit on 16 was amazing.”

On the front nine, though, it was Matsuyama making the big shots. He two-putted for birdie at the par-5 fourth to halve the match before carding birdies on Nos. 6 and 8 to build the Internationals lead to 2 up.

He then powered a drive right up to the water at the par-5 ninth and had just 210 yards in for his second shot.

But he hit his iron shot fat and found the water. He wouldn’t factor into Nos. 11 and 12, either. Hadwin tried to hold strong for his team, making birdies at Nos. 12 and 13, but Spieth and Reed used their experience together to orchestrate the comeback.

“Back nine, I didn’t play very well at all; unfortunate,” Matsuyama said. “I feel good at at least we won a half a point. … I wish I knew why I haven’t been playing well. But all I can do is just keep working hard and look forward to tomorrow and making a comeback.”

Now, though, the Americans are in complete control. Spieth and Reed, as competitive as they are, just wish they could’ve pulled out the win and contributed to a Friday sweep at Liberty National.

“Any time you halve or don’t win the match, it doesn’t sit right,” Reed said. “We didn’t really play very well on the front nine and we dug ourselves a hole. We were able to claw back on the back nine. … Just didn’t quite get it done.”

But they feel better than the Internationals.

“Obviously it’s not the best of moods going through right now,” Hadwin said. “We’re pretty fresh off a disappointing day where they stole most of our points.”

Turning point

With Matsuyama and Hadwin both missing the green at the par-4 15th, Reed took advantage with his 16-foot make for birdie. The birdie shrunk the International lead to just 1 up, and Spieth added a birdie of his own at the next hole to square the match.

“We felt like we had all the momentum going on the last two,” Reed said.

Added Spieth: “With four holes to go, absolutely, we’d probably have signed off for a half point. But the chances on the last couple holes, we had other sights.”

Who’s hot?

Reed. He eagled the par-5 second hole to give the U.S. an early lead and he kept things close on the front nine as Spieth struggled a bit. His birdie at the 15th started the comeback, too, and set the table for Spieth to nearly pull off the match-winner on the final hole.

Top shot

Who doesn’t love eagles? This one by Reed was pretty sweet.


Etc.

Spieth and Reed are now 6-1-3 as a team in Presidents and Ryder cups. … Matsuyama is 3-5-3 in Presidents Cup history.

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