Patrick Reed picks up from where he left off at the Tournament of Champions
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

BALLS IN THE AIR! The first round on the PGA Tour in 2016 is officially in the books. Good luck and play well, boys.

It’s hard to attribute it to anything besides two very competitive and talented golfers wanting to beat the other in head-to-head competition, but it sure seems like Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth bring the best out of each other, so to speak. Reed, the defending champion who came through in the clutch in a year ago at Kapalua’s Planation Course to beat Jimmy Walker in a playoff, was paired with world no. 1 Jordan Spieth, who is obviously coming off a phenomenal season that included five wins, including two majors, in the first official round of 2016 on the PGA Tour.

Reed and Spieth headed into the par-5 18th at six-under — tied with three other players — but pushed each other and ensured a tee time together for the second straight day, making eagle and birdie, respectively.

Reed hit a monster drive and left himself with 295 yards into the green and knocked a pure 3-wood onto the green that stopped 16 feet from the hole. He rolled in the putt for eagle to post an eight-under 65 and take the outright lead in the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“I knew I could really swing it and I knew if you draw it pretty hard off that tee you can hopefully get a good bounce and get it rolling a little farther,” he said. “So I hit a nice big draw off the tee and then I had 295 flag and honestly, I didn’t think I could get it all the way to the green. I thought if I smoked it, I’d get to the front edge and it just happened to ride the wind a little bit and kind of just keep on going. And once it gets on that green I know it’s going to just keep feeding. I left myself really a pretty basic straight uphill putt from (16) feet, breaking maybe a cup.”

While some of the top players took it easy the past month or so, Reed only took 10 days off from golf. He had a busy “offseason,” as he opted to become a member of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. From the end of October through November, he spent a month in Asia with four top-10 finishes, and then placed T10 at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai. Next, he earned runner-up honors at the Hero World Challenge, the limited-field event hosted by Tiger Woods, in the first week of December. So you could say he’s had a solid last couple of months and it’s gone largely unnoticed.

“I’ve always wanted to play on both tours and be a worldwide player and I had to play that much at the end to keep status on the European Tour to fulfill my membership,” said Reed. “And it was one thing coming into, I knew how tired I was, I knew I had to figure out how to kind of handle it.

“When I started going, I started playing some solid golf. I had some things that my new coach and I were working on and it kept me going and kept me motivated and played some really solid golf and it seemed to carry over into the off season, which was only three weeks so not really an off season and then I was back here grinding away.”

Reed can’t exactly explain what it is that makes him step up when he’s paired with Spieth, but it always seems to breed positive results.

“Any time I play with Jordan we always have a good time and we seemed to play pretty solid with each other,” he said. “So, just another day to go out and play some golf with a friend and we went out and played some fun golf. Both of us did.”

Spieth, who posted a seven-under 66, shared his take on the pairing.

“For whatever reason it is, whether we want to feed off each other or we want to beat the crap out of each other, we somehow play well together,” said Spieth. “We still want to out do each other even when we’re teammates in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. So it’s a good pairing. I certainly hope to continue this pairing, because it didn’t look like he was going to start letting up, 6-under on the last 6, with starting to find that putter, seems to me that he has a nice rhythm on his swing, he’s got a nice little tight draw, which is, when he’s playing his best, that’s the ball flight he’s hitting. And he hit a couple fantastic shots today.

“But, yeah, it’s definitely easy to feed off of when you’re playing with somebody that’s playing well as well as someone who you played well with for a number of years now.”

Spieth can’t exactly put his finger on the reason why he and Reed appear to play so well when they’re paired together, but it’s likely due to how competitive they are — perhaps particularly with each other.

“Any time Patrick loses in a head to head format, you’re not going to see somebody that’s that upset for a very long time,” said Spieth. “He hates it. I mean, he hates losing in a match play situation. And so I guess each time we’re together we almost feel like we’re playing each other in a match. I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t, but that’s what I think of it, that’s why I think we play well together.

“We’re certainly wanting each other to play well, to push ourselves about you I don’t like losing to him in a round when I play with him.”

Well, Reed is probably quite pleased with himself this evening. With the encore pairing of Spieth and Reed on Friday, it should be fun to see who can outdo the other in the second round. Keep it up, guys!