Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed formed a dream team at the 2014 Ryder Cup, going 2-0-1 in their matches together. Though Team USA lost to the Europeans that year 16.5-11.5 at Gleneagles, Spieth and Reed were a bright spot for the Americans: two young stars who looked primed to form a solid foundation for the red, white and blue for years to come.
Naturally, hopes were high for the duo at the next Ryder Cup in 2016, and they again delivered. This time, it was on home soil at Hazeltine. Spieth and Reed lost only once, earning 2.5 points together, and contributing to massive 17-11 victory for Team USA.
A year later, at the 2017 Presidents Cup, Spieth and Reed dominated yet again, earning 3.5 points together. Team USA bulldozed the Internationals 19-11, and the Reed/Spieth pairing seemed like it would continue to be successful forever.
Alas, everything changed at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, when, to the shock of many, the dream team was inexplicably disbanded. Spieth played with Justin Thomas, and Reed played with Tiger Woods. While Thomas and Spieth shined, going 3-1-0 in an otherwise depressing U.S. showing, Woods and Reed were skunked, losing both of their fourball matches.
To make things worse, Team USA was shellacked in Paris, losing 17.5-10.5. While the Americans appeared to take the loss in stride during Sunday evening’s press conference, frustration brewing under the surface ultimately bubbled over, culminating in a public airing of grievances by Reed to the New York Times. Reed dubbed captain Jim Furyk’s pairings “a buddy system” and piled on from there.
“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed said. “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”
The media had a field day with Team USA’s apparent dysfunction. But Spieth and Reed appeared to end whatever animosity lingered by publicly hugging it out when they were paired together during the third round of the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open.
So what exactly was going on between the two players? In this week’s episode of Subpar, Jordan Spieth told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz his side of what was happening behind the scenes.
Regarding the headline-making breakup at the 2018 Ryder Cup, Spieth began with some background.
“It was 2015 in the Presidents Cup in Korea,” Spieth said. “Jay Haas was our captain. And he came to me and was like, ‘Hey, who do you want to play with this week?’ Which was kind of a cool position to be in. He was like, ‘You’re leading our team. Who do you want to play with?’ And I was like, ‘I want to play with Patrick, we’ve had success last year at the Ryder Cup. I’d love to play a round with DJ. I think that would be so much fun.’
“I’ve actually battled with DJ more than I have anybody else on the PGA Tour, whether it’s majors or PGA Tour events,” Spieth continued. “And I’ve loved it. And I’ve played more rounds, probably, in his group than I have anyone else. So I was like, all right, I kinda want to play with DJ, this would be awesome. I love playing from his drives. This will be great. And then he’s going to have to play from mine and be like, ‘I don’t really want to hit 7-iron.’ Anyway, point being, I had already played with DJ some.”
At the 2015 Presidents Cup, Spieth ended up playing three of four team matches with Johnson (two of which they won), and only one with Reed, which they won .
“Then I played with Patrick later in the week,” Spieth said. “He had told me, like, he made a birdie, he came over and he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what you get for playing with DJ.’ And we literally — we had both made eight birdies through 14 holes and destroyed whoever we were playing. But it was almost like I’d fired him up more by playing with somebody else.”
As to why Spieth wanted to play with Thomas, Spieth says it was simply another special milestone he hoped to share with his best friend.
“I grew up with Justin,” Spieth explained. “He’s one of my best friends in the entire world. I grew up since we were 13 together, we’ve been the biggest fans of each other through our entire process of junior golf, college golf, professional golf, into winning major championships, into being No. 1 in the world. We’ve accomplished these massive goals we set out when we were 13 at Mansfield here — I can’t even remember the golf course — where I played with JT in the final round. Walnut Creek. We were paired there in a final round and that’s when we met. Obviously I want to play with him. Like, this would be so awesome.”
Spieth says there was no bad blood to speak of in the lead-up to the fateful 2018 Ryder Cup.
“Team room, I mean, it was fine,” he says. “We all had people we were gonna play with. I think when we were getting ready for the tournament, it think it was myself, Tiger, Justin and Patrick, which was freaking badass to play in a pod with Tiger at a Ryder Cup. Like, you might be paired with him, even though we knew that he was gonna be Justin’s partner if I played with Patrick, and then Patrick and Tiger might play together.
“And second of all, I also didn’t think it’d be a big deal if I played with Justin and Patrick got Tiger,” Spieth says. “Like, it doesn’t seem like something that would upset people, that you get Tiger. So it was just, you know, it was part of the pod. Or fire team, or whatever it was called. For me, it was mainly like, [Thomas and I] had grown up together, accomplished these goals together, we’re finally at the coolest stage in golf at a Ryder Cup. Let’s go out and kick some ass together. I mean, that’s what we wanted to do. And, you know, everything was fine. Nothing was a big deal. Things were raised afterwards and then Patrick and I have been awesome since. It really was like, blown out for six months. And then other than that it’s been nothing.”
For more from Spieth, including the details of his first Masters champions dinner, his thoughts on Bryson DeChambeau’s chances at this year’s Masters and more, check out his interview in its entirety below.