REUTERS – Defending champion Patrick Reed made a brilliant eagle at the last to earn a one-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth in the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Thursday.
Reed, playing in the final pairing with world number one Spieth, overcame a slow start to pick up six strokes in the final six holes for an eight-under-par 65 in benign conditions on the Kapalua Plantation course on the island of Maui.
He saved his best for the downhill par-five 18th, where his 310-yard second shot landed some 30 yards short of the green and trundled down to 15 feet.
“I putted really solid. Early on in the round nothing seemed to fall,” said Reed, who was only one-under after eight holes until he birdied the par-five ninth.
“From there I seemed to hit the ball a bit closer and hit better putts. Anytime you go somewhere you’ve won you have confidence but that was 365 days ago.”
Spieth birdied the last on the way to a seven-under 66 to stand alone in second, with Brandt Snedeker, J.B. Holmes and Danny Lee on 67.
Only six of the 31 players in the winners-only field shot worse than par in conditions that Spieth said could hardly have been easier.
“I would call it as easy as the course could play,” said the Masters and U.S. Open champion. “You can attack some pins if the wind isn’t blowing out here.
“I’ve been playing this golf course for a week now. If I do what I did today each day, we’re in good business.”
Reed, 25, and Spieth, 22, have already developed a strong rivalry.
Reed beat Spieth in a playoff at the 2013 Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, before Spieth gained revenge by besting Reed in another playoff at the Valspar Championship last March.
“Maybe we want to beat each other so bad it brings the best out in us,” said Spieth.
“Whatever it is, we want to keep it going.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)