MAMARONECK, N.Y. — There was a mist within the air when Patrick Reed struck his tee shot on the par three, 166-yard seventh gap at Winged Foot Golf Club Thursday morning. The 2020 United States Open was solely two hours outdated.
“It was hazy, you couldn’t see every shot,” stated Jordan Spieth, Reed’s first-round taking part in companion. “Patrick’s shot looked like it was left and if it gets left of that hole, it goes off the green.”
Reed watched the ball, 9-iron in hand, because it landed on the inexperienced.
“But I couldn’t see how many hops it took,” he stated. “Maybe two?”
Spieth leaned ahead to get a greater view.
“It kicked straight forward and you could hear it hit the pin,” he stated. “One hop.”
Everyone on the tee field paused, together with Reed. It wasn’t clear the place the ball was, and as a result of there have been no spectators, there was no different noise.
Then, some course volunteers to the left of the inexperienced raised their palms within the air. There was a yelp.
Reed regarded sheepishly towards his competitors — not his common mien.
Spieth was instantly struck by what else was completely different.
“A hole-in-one at the U.S. Open?” he stated. “Normally, the place would have been going nuts.”
Reed nodded in settlement.
“Up here in New York?” he stated with a broad grin. “Amazing fans. That would have been an awesome experience.”
Still smiling, he added: “At the same time, an ace is an ace.”
In this case, it appeared to be price greater than two-under par on the opening as a result of it modified the tenor of Reed’s day. Wobbling at one-over par via six holes, Reed closed with three birdies on the again 9 to shoot a four-under-par 66 at fearsome Winged Foot, ending the day only one stroke behind the early first-round chief Justin Thomas.
Though Reed had by no means performed Winged Foot earlier than this week, he has grow to be a fan.
“I love hard courses,” he stated together with his customary, full-throated self-assurance. “It separates the top golfers compared to the rest of the field. Also, it separates the guys that can use creativity and can handle adversity.”
With pin placements in comparatively benign spots on the treacherous greens, Winged Foot on Thursday was not practically as penal as it is going to be within the closing rounds. Thomas’s spherical of 65, which included six birdies, was the bottom rating in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which is internet hosting the championship for the sixth time.
Reed had begun the spherical cautiously, however particularly after the hole-in-one, he started firing at pins.
“He said it’s his second hole-in-one since he turned professional,” Spieth said. “Which surprises me with how he attacks golf courses.”
The pairing of Spieth and Reed Thursday — the third golfer in their group was Hideki Matsuyama — was at least a visual reminder of their days as a formidable duo from international competitions in the middle of the 2010s.
Beginning in 2014, they had an 8-1-3 record, until Reed and Spieth were paired with different players at the 2018 Ryder Cup. The results that year were mixed and the European team trounced the Americans. Afterward, Reed chafed at the decision to break up his partnership with Spieth and suggested that Spieth was behind the separation.
Several months later, Reed and Spieth played together at a PGA Tour event and seemed to have put the episode behind them, even hugging on the first tee. Thursday, they were cordial and helpful to each other on the course.
On the difficult par-4 16th hole, when Reed’s tee shot ricocheted off a tree and left him nearly 300 yards from the green, he used a wood to launch a blind shot around the hole’s severe dogleg left. Walking up the fairway after his second shot, Reed squinted toward the green to see where his ball had come to rest.
Spieth walked over from the other side of the fairway to point out where Reed’s ball was — only 60 yards from the hole but nestled in deep rough that might have made it hard to find.
Reed pitched onto the 16th green and sank a five-foot putt to save his par. Spieth finished the day at three over par as did Tiger Woods, after a round that began in the topsy-turvy fashion that has become common for both players. Woods began with three bogeys on the front nine, before stringing together three straight birdies at the turn. A seven-foot putt for birdie lipped out on the 12th hole, ending his run.
Spieth was three over par after two holes before birdieing three consecutive holes on the front nine.
“I’ve had just about everything happen to me in the game of golf,” Spieth said. “So it’s not very hard for me to reset after two holes of a 72-hole tournament.”
Reed admired Spieth’s grit.
“Even though he didn’t swing it well today and didn’t feel like he really made golf shots he likes,” Reed said. “He’s still going to grind he always stays in it. He’s going to figure out a way to get the job done and get a score out of it.”
“I’m a grinder,” he said. “A lot of scrappy.”