DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Reed followed a big win with a bold comment.
Reed was dripping with confidence even before the final round of the Cadillac Championship. He had two wins in his previous 13 starts on the PGA Tour. He knew his game could handle any course, even a new Blue Monster that yielded the fewest 72-hole scores under par in the 52-year history of Doral.
And even having Tiger Woods just three shots behind and in the group head of him didn’t keep Reed from wearing black pants and a red shirt.
He delivered a final round Sunday that even Woods could have appreciated. Reed doubled his two-shot lead with two quick birdies, hit five quality bunker shots on the back nine that led to pars and closed with an even-par 72 and a one-shot victory.
Bubba Watson played bogey-free over the final 27 holes at Trump National Doral and closed with a 68. He was the first to post a 3-under 285. Jamie Donaldson of Wales got within one shot of Reed before he found a back bunker on the 18th and missed a par putt just inside 15 feet for a 70 to join Watson.
Reed played the 18th conservatively with an iron off the tee – just like Woods did in one of his four wins at Doral – made bogey and finished at 4-under 284.
That’s three wins in seven months for the 23-year-old Texan. He now is the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship.
Reed sure isn’t.
He had said he felt like he belonged among the top five in the world, and Reed wasn’t about to back down after beating the strongest field in golf so far this year.
“I don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game,” Reed said of his three wins, including a WGC title. “I believe in myself, especially with how hard I’ve worked. I’m one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I’ve proven myself.”
So who are the other four?
He mentioned Woods, whom Reed considers the best to ever play. Reed grew up watching Woods in a red shirt and black plants on Sunday, and thought it would be wise to do the same thing. Those now are his Sunday colors, and he’s now 3 for 3 when having at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
He mentioned Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson. He is constantly impressed with Graeme McDowell. He played Saturday with Dustin Johnson and saw how good Johnson can be when he puts it all together. So that’s five names right there, without even getting to FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson, Match Play champion Jason Day or two-time major champion Rory McIlroy.
So maybe it was a figure of speech.
“Tough question,” Reed said with a grin. “Those guys, there’s so many great players out there.”
He at least has reason to count himself among them. Reed moved up to No. 20 in the world, and he’s starting to think he can win any week, anywhere.
Even the Masters?
He led Augusta State to two NCAA titles. Reed makes his debut at Augusta National next month, and his outlook is changing.
“Before this event, my goal was to compete and be in contention come Sunday at Augusta,” Reed said. “To go and play the field – all these guys are going to be at Augusta – to go wire-to-wire, that definitely just gives me more confidence come Sunday that if I play how I’m supposed to at Augusta, that we’ll be in the running.”
Woods is limping to the Masters.
One week after he withdrew from the final round of the Honda Classic after 13 holes, he said his back flared up again after an awkward shot from the bunker on the sixth hole. He wound up with a 78, his highest score ever on Sunday, and for the first time failed to make a single birdie in the final round.
His hopes were gone by the sixth hole, anyway. Woods beaned two spectators in three holes with tee shots and already was seven shots behind. He said he spent the rest of the day fighting spasms, and only said after his round, “It’s over. It’s finally done, which is good.”
He tied for 25th, his best finish in four events this year. He missed a 54-hole cut at Torrey Pines, tied for 41st in Dubai and withdrew from the Honda Classic.
“Just let me get through this day, get some treatment and we’ll assess it as time goes on,” Woods said of his back.
His next scheduled start is March 20 at Bay Hill, where he is defending champion and an eight-time winner. Asked if he has had an MRI on his back or planned more tests, Woods said, “Well, it is back spasms. So we’ve done all the protocols and it’s just a matter of keeping everything aligned so I don’t go into that.”
Reed certainly has his golf aligned nicely.
He won the Wyndham Championship last August in a playoff over Jordan Spieth. He went wire-to-wire at the Humana Challenge, opening with three 63s. And then against a strong field, he went wire-to-wire (including ties) at Doral.
Can he live with being No. 20 for now?
“Oh, yeah,” Reed said with a smile.