Weir Wins Chance to Play With Gretzky
It is a privilege to play with him. According to Wayne Gretzky, that is what it feels like to play golf with Mike Weir, as he has for the last three years in the RMCC Wayne Gretzky and Friends Invitational, and as he will again, only this time on the PGA Toutr.
The two will be partnering this week at the 2003 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro - Am.
It all started after the 99 PGA Championship, when Weir was in the hunt on the final day with Tiger Woods, and ended up shooting an 80 to finish with a share of 10th place. Mike's disappointment with his performance turned into a challenge, when he received a motivating phone call from The Great One - Gretsky.
Gretzky related his own experience with frustration and loss while competing for the Stanley Cup, when his team lost to the Islanders in a 4-0 sweep. This experience only made Edmonton want the cup even more, as the Oilers learned from their mistakes and came back stronger than ever in 1984 to win the Stanley Cup.
Two weeks later, Weir won his first title on Canadian soil, at the 1999 Air Canada Championship.
In the summer of 2000, Gretzky hosted the inaugural Wayne Gretzky and Friends Invitational, a charity golf tournament for the Ronald McDonald Childrens Charities. This was the first time Mike and Wayne played golf together, although Wayne was competing against Mike, with the help of Brett Hull and Mario Lemieux.
'The crowd was rooting for Mike,' Gretzky said. 'And we're in hockey country. What Mike has done for golf in Canada is like what Tiger has done in the States. Not only the way he plays, but the way he carries himself. He says he wanted to be me when he was a kid. Well, I'm not so young anymore, and I'd like to be him.'
Mike is looking forward to playing with Wayne in Pebble Beach: 'After having played golf against Wayne at the RMCC Gretzky and Friends the last few years in Canada, it will be nice to be on his team. Hopefully he can assist and score as well as he did as a hockey player!'
Since its inception in 1937, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has become one of the most highly anticipated events on the PGA Tour. Celebrities such as Ray Romano, Orel Hershiser, Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, Bill Murray, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Randy Quaid, Vince Gill, and Jerry Rice have been some of the stars to compete in the past.
Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup
AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.
Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.
“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.
The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.
“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”
The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.
Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go
AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.
There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.
Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.
Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.
“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”
But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.
The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.
That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.
Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.
Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.
“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.
While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.
For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.
“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.
But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.
Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.
They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.
“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”
Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.
“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”
Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.
It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”
Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head
But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.
One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.
It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.
And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.
Hey, whatever works.
Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'
AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.
Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.
The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.
“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”
Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.
“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”