The last 16 at the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play has been decided with winner-takes-all clashes, play-offs and even a hole-in-one in the Texan capital.
Here, we take a look at the three biggest stories from day three.
Reed backs up his chat
“My back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup.”
That was the response from Patrick Reed when asked about facing his friend and playing partner from Gleneagles and Hazeltine Jordan Spieth in a do-or-die encounter on Friday.
It was a joke made more from respect than anything else but Reed may have been having a little smile to himself after beating Spieth 2 and 1 at Austin Country Club.
Spieth gave him a head start by going out of bounds on the first and into the hazard on the second but the three-time Major winner found his feet and stunning approaches to the ninth and tenth moved him level.
Reed won the 11th, 13th and 15th and when he holed a putt from the fringe on the 17th, he even gave Spieth a generous concession for a half.
There was no needle in this contest and, if truth be told, not a huge amount of quality – but put these two together and it is always box office.
Reed’s response when asked what Spieth’s key match play strengths are… pic.twitter.com/BSPL9JYGl5
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) March 23, 2018
Kuch ace grows fanbase
There are few more likeable – and quietly brilliant – players in world golf than Matt Kuchar.
The amiable American won this title in 2013, has a Players Championship on his CV and finished second to Jordan Spieth at last season’s Open Championship.
Despite being regarded as one of the funniest players around and in possession of an electrifying game, he is often thought as of steady, a safe pair of hands, but he produced something spectacular on Friday.
Stood on the seventh tee with an eight iron 181 yards from the pin, he launched his shot away, watched the ball take a few bounces and then curl to the right and into the hole.
The crowd erupted for the Floridian and there would be few more popular winners on Sunday.
Dark horse Aphibarnrat stalking
Tommy Fleetwood described Ian Poulter as a “match play ninja” earlier in the week but he may not be the only man in the field worthy of the title.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s last two wins have come at the 2015 Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play and this season’s ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth and he continues to excel in Austin.
He beat Chez Reavie, Keegan Bradley and – in claiming his biggest scalp – World Number Three Jon Rahm to compile a perfect record in Group 3 and set up a clash with Charles Howell III.
The Thai already has something of a cult following in Asia and Europe and a win this week could make him a superstar.