Young Americans Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will again play together for each other, team and country at this Ryder Cup, starting with Friday morning’s opening match of foursomes against Europe’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
And as they did in going 2-0-1 in Scotland two years ago, they’ll try to win by trying to outdo the other.
Call it a competition within a competition.
“We want to beat the crap out of each other, to be honest,” Spieth said, perhaps only half-joking. “We always seem to play well in the same groups, and part of it is because we want to beat each other.”
Let Reed further explain:
“If I’m playing with Jordan, I’m going to go out and try to beat him on every hole,” Reed said. “It’s just one of those things: I grew up with Jordan. I’ve played junior golf with him, I feel like I’ve known Jordan my whole life. Every time we play, we’re pushing each other so hard, trying to beat each other, it just brings out the best golf in us.
“We know if I’m beating him and he’s beating me that, at the end of the day, the number is going to be really low.”
At Gleneagles in 2014, that meant beating Europe’s Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher 5-and-4 in Friday morning four-ball, beating Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer 5-and-3 in Saturday morning four-ball and then halving with Kaymer and Rose in afternoon foursomes.
Friday morning at 7:35 a.m., they will face Rose and Stenson — Olympic gold and silver medalists, respectively — in the 41st Ryder Cup’s opening match.
“I’m pumped,” Reed said. “It’s going to be a battle of four great golfers. It’s going to be so much fun and hopefully we can give them a good show and get the U.S. off to a right start.”
D.J. is back
The United States’ cleanup hitter in Friday’s morning matches, reigning U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson — also the world’s No. 2-ranked player — is back for his third Ryder Cup. It’s his first since 2012, missing Gleneagles in 2014 after he took a personal leave of absence from the PGA Tour to address what he then called “personal challenges.”
On Friday, he will anchor the U.S. team’s foursome matches when he pairs with steady Matt Kuchar against Europe’s Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters.
“It was definitely hard to watch because obviously I had made the team, but, you know, I elected not to participate but to work on myself,” he said of his 2014 absence. “I think it’s paid off a lot. As you can see, over the last couple years how well my performance has been, it was the best thing for me at that time. I can see it paying tenfold right now.”
Johnson has 15 top-10 finishes this season, winning the WGC-Bridgestone and BMW championships as well as his first major.
“I come in playing really well and I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to this year’s Ryder Cup.”
Somebody told Iowan Zach Johnson that Minnesotans will have to adopt him because they have none of their own on the team.
“There is a Minnesotan on the team,” Johnson said. “His name is [vice captain] Tom Lehman and he’s just as much a part of the team as anyone else, which is tremendous because he is Minnesota golf to most people, I’m assuming most Minnesotans. But, yeah, I’ll take that adoption, sure. … I spent a lot of time here as a kid.”
• On Ryder Cup eve, Europe shut down the U.S. team in a past captains match 8-0 “I’m heading to Las Vegas and putting money on you,” 1999 U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw said to 2014 Europe captain Paul McGinley. If the Americans are lucky, it’ll be just like the Masters’ Wednesday par-3 tournament, in which the winner never has gone on to win on Sunday.
• Ten of the 24 golfers who played in golf’s return to the Summer Olympics are playing in the Ryder Cup, including all three medalists: Europe’s Rose (gold) and Stenson (silver) and American Kuchar (bronze).
• Here is one of the week’s big mysteries so far: Why aren’t the European players wearing hats? “I don’t know, want to show our pretty hair?” said Kaymer, a captain’s pick and two-time major winner. “I have a small head, the hats in the locker room don’t fit my head.”
• Stenson played comedian after the two teams’ gala dinner Wednesday, grabbing the microphone on the Europeans’ bus to tell jokes. “He didn’t get many laughs,” Euro rookie Chris Wood said, “but he tried.”
• Pieters was Darren Clarke’s last captain’s pick in August, getting a phone call that Clarke opened by saying he had some tough decisions to make. “He waited two or three seconds — which was 6 seconds too long — and then said, ‘You’re going to Hazeltine,’ ” the Belgian said.