American Patrick Reed weebled and wobbled but never fell over on Sunday as his final round one-under-par 71 saw him finish on 28-under 260 to win the Humana Challenge. The Palmer Private course, one of three courses in use this week, was the host course for the final round and witnessed Reed hold off Ryan Palmer by two shots. Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard finished another shot back T3.
Sunday was just going to be a formality as the young Texan began the day with a seven shot lead on the back of 63-63-63 in his first three rounds. But, with the final round being played on one of the easiest courses on TOUR, Reed, if he didn’t play well, was going to have company late in the afternoon. Reed’s final round 71 was just enough and his lead was never lost or tied. That’s the benefit of setting the 54-hole TOUR, let alone tournament, record with 27-under! Reed doubled his bogey totals for the week on Sunday with four, but in the end, he kept his nerve. With wayward tee balls, irons and putts the order of the afternoon, Reed finally holed a putt on No. 15 that gave him a three-shot lead at the time. That was the confidence booster he needed and he cruised home from there. He led the field in birdies this week with 30 and was excellent into and on the greens. He was T12 GIR and 11th in strokes gained-putting for the week. He played 32 of the 72 holes under par this week. A group of 85 players made the cut; Reed was 83rd with only 34 pars. Yep, the other six holes were just bogeys, nothing worse, and that helped, especially on Sunday when he wasn’t as sharp as he was the first three days.
Just one year ago Reed sat No. 584 in OWGR. What a difference a year makes as the 23-year-old has now won twice and will vault into the top 50 on the back of this victory. Known for his penchant to Monday qualify back in 2012, Reed has taken that experience and ran with it. He finished 2012 T22 in the final PGA TOUR Qualifying tournament to secure his card for 2013. His best run of play on TOUR came last summer when he went on a run of fifth, T18, T34, MC, T7, T9 and P1 over Jordan Spieth at the Wyndham Championship. That must have sucked the life out of him because in the Playoffs, he finished MC, T70 and T59. He wasn’t on many people’s radar to start the wrap around season either as he MC at Frys.com, WD in Las Vegas after 77 and a wrist problem. His T40 at CIMB included no rounds in the 60s. He opened 2014 at the HTOC at he finished T16 in 30-man field with only one round in the 60s. Let’s not forget he MC at this event last year as he opened with 74. Other than that, he should have been in all of my lineups this week!
Golf is a funny old game. That last paragraph should reinforce it. Reed has gone from Monday qualifier extraordinaire to the dude with his wife on the bag to the dude who just set the 54-hole TOUR record with his wife’s brother on the bag to the young American with multiple wins on TOUR in his 20s. Not bad for a guy who just made his 46th start! Reed gets it done on the greens and bombs it off the tee. He showed he could win on a classic course, Sedgefield and a birdie-fest like the three courses used this week. Moving forward, he’s had success (T7 in 2013) at Pebble Beach so keep him on your radar. Don’t forget the reason his wife is no longer on the bag is she is due with their first child. Memorial Day is the target for the child to arrive so adjust your lineup accordingly!
With this victory, Reed collects $1,026,000, 500 FedExCup points and adds to his exempt status until 2015-2016.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first nine events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (2), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson and Patrick Reed are getting fired up in a Ryder Cup year.
Jimmy Walker is the only first-time winner in 2013-14. There were 12 of them last season. Walker is the only two-time winner as well. Reed joins Walker, Johnson and Henrik Stenson as multiple winners since last August. Nice club to join!
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. Through nine events, five players have held the 54-lead and converted it into big cash money ducats. Add Patrick Reed to the list of lead holders!
Brian Gay MC and Johnny Miller is still the only player to defend his title. That makes exactly ONE title defense in 55 events.
He’s only the second player to wire this event. Rick Massengale went open-to-close as well in 1977. That’s impressive in a birdie festival!
Since 2000, only three non-Americans have won this event.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
This is the part of the column where I list the winners and their age. Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and was joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia and Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua. Walker added title No. 2 to catch the youngsters last week but that lasted one week. Reed, 23, joins Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29) and Harris English, (24) as the twenty-somethings on the board. The Young Guns now have five of nine wins to start the season. The Old Guys were led this week by 1997 Open Champion Justin Leonard, 41, as he shared third with 2007 Masters champ Zach Johnson.