UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Last fall at the Ryder Cup, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed formed a youthful, fiery and very successful partnership. On Saturday, they will be paired in a much different setting in the final pairing of the third round of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
Spieth, the 21-year-old Masters champion, and the 24-year-old Reed are tied for the 36-hole lead at 5-under-par 135. The leaderboard has a "Generation Next" feel to it with 27-year-old emerging South African star Branden Grace and Dustin Johnson, who turns 31 Monday, tied for third another stroke back.
"It's going to be fun," Reed said of his third-round pairing. "Any time I play with Jordan, I enjoy it."
Three of the four leaders bogeyed the 18th hole, which played as a par-4 in the second round and a par-5 in the first round. Spieth had a double bogey on what played as his ninth hole, but he overcame it to post a second-round 67. Reed shot a 69 but was disappointed that his round included six bogeys (and an eagle 2 on the par-4 12th).
Grace may fly under the radar for casual fans, but he has two European Tour wins this year and fired a 67-136 despite a bogey at his last hole to move into fourth place. Golf's biggest young star, No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy, had a 36-hole total of 144 that was one stroke under the cut line at 5-over 145.
First-round co-leader Henrik Stenson followed his opening 65 with a 74 and Phil Mickelson had a disappointing 74 to drop to 3-over 143.
Stenson said he was disappointed with course conditions, which changed dramatically in the afternoon.
"It was borderline laughable," Stenson said. "It was like putting on broccoli . . . On half your shots, you're not trying to play in the direction of the pin. After a couple days of it, you think it would be nice to aim for a pin."
Spieth said he expects to draw on his experience winning the Masters in April while chasing the second leg of the Grand Slam, but he admitted he's having trouble controlling his driver.
"At Augusta, I was finding fairways, hitting it on the green and making everything," Spieth said. "That would be nice here if I could do that, but it's a harder golf course than the Masters played this year."
For the second straight round, Grace recorded an eagle. In the first round it was at the 12th, but in the second round, he sank a putt from the fairway that he estimated was 35 yards from the pin at the par-5 eighth hole.
"It's a little bit of luck," Grace said. "To get the speed right on a putt like that is almost impossible. Thankfully, the pin was there. I hit the pin center, and it managed to fall in."
Breaks are part of a U.S. Open and so is patience with the layout. Spieth expressed his displeasure with the USGA playing the 18th as a 514-yard par-4. He drove into a fairway bunker, hit the lip coming out, knocked his third into a green-side bunker and ultimately finished with a double bogey.
"If it's going to be a par-4 and you're going to bring that bunker into play, I think the tee should be moved up more," Spieth said. "I thought it was a dumb hole today, but I think we're going to play it from there again, so I've got to get over that."
Reed said he doesn't care how they play it but added, "If it's a par-4, put the pin in a halfway decent place. I hit two good shots at 18, and I had no chance to hit a normal putt. It was like playing 'Mickey Mouse' golf."