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WGC-Cadillac Championship Recap: Confident Reed Even Looks the Part

Len Hochberg

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years, covering the Washington Capitals. He co-authored a book on the history of hockey.

Red shirt? Check. Black pants? Check. Black shoes? Check. Black cap? Check. There's not a big Sunday in golf that we don't see that simple yet imposing combination, an ensemble that requires no further identification. There he was at Doral, fending off a world-class field and the revamped Blue Monster. ... Wait? ... What?

Not Tiger Woods?

Patrick Reed? Chubby-cheeked Patrick Reed? Yes, that Patrick Reed.

No, there's not a new sheriff in town, not by a long shot, despite the audacious comments by the 23-year-old Texan after he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It's the biggest victory of Reed's young career, likely a burgeoning career, but in sports there are no guarantees, no matter how self-assured one is.

After holding off Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson by a shot, while Woods limped home with a career-worst final round of 78, Reed punctuated his third win in seven months by declaring himself a top-five player. That sent the Twittersphere into full venomous mobilization and, hey, if nothing else, made Reed known for something other than having a petite blond wife for a caddie (she is now pregnant and wasn't on his bag Sunday, or for his second win at the Humana in January).

"I've worked so hard, I've won a lot in my junior career, did great things in amateur career, was 6-0 in match play in NCAAs, won NCAAs two years in a row, got third individually one year, and now I have three wins out here on the PGA Tour," Reed, who played at Augusta State - yes, that Augusta - told reporters in Miami. But he was just ramping up, getting to bold-faced comments more befitting the tournament's host, Donald Trump.

"I just don't see a lot of guys that have done that, besides Tiger Woods, of course, and, you know, the other legends of the game. It's just one of those things. I believe in myself and - especially with how hard I've worked - I'm one of the top five players in the world.

"To come out in a field like this and to hold on wire to wire like that, I feel like I've proven myself."

Asked who else is in the top five - you know, besides Woods and him, Reed offered Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson. Yes, that's six, and that's without Rory McIlroy, the only golfer under 25 with more wins (six, including two majors) than Reed.

Bravado aside, Reed clearly was the best all week on an incredibly difficult course, one that was redesigned since last year's Cadillac, won by Woods, who continues to be hampered by back woes. Reed, like much of the field, struggled amid a mighty wind Friday, shooting 75. But he bookended that 3-over score with an opening 68 and a third-round 69, taking a two-shot lead into Sunday. Reed never was in real danger, even after late charges by Watson and Donaldson that still allowed him the luxury of bogeying 18, which he did.

Reed's first victory as a pro came last August at the Wyndham Championship in a playoff over another fair young player in Jordan Spieth. It was highlighted by one of the shots of the year on the second playoff hole, a 7-iron from pine straw under a tree to seven feet, from where Reed sank the winning birdie. (You can see that shot here.)

For the record, Reed will now climb into just the top 20 in the world. Also for the record, he has yet to play in a major, though he'll be in the Masters next month. Whether the comments come back to bite Reed, we shall see. This new Blue Monster was so treacherous - for the week, the 68-man field produced more than 300 water balls - that maybe it wasn't a true indicator of greatness. Some observers thought it was too tricked-out: hit a ball on the green, have it roll off into the water. It produced some wild aberrations: Luke Donald shot an 82, Webb Simpson an 80, Spieth and Lee Westwood 79s and on and on. And of course, Woods with his Sunday worst. All told, the still-No. 1 found the water six times during the week.


Bubba Watson

He really wasn't in the conversation all week, but Watson was right there at the end. And, over the last five weeks, he's arguably the hottest golfer on tour with a T2 in Phoenix, a win in Los Angeles, a T9 at the Match Play and now another T2. Bubba might have something to say to young Reed, and everyone else, at Augusta.

Jamie Donaldson

The Welshman tied for second, securing 378 non-member FedEx Cup points. That's enough to grant him special temporary PGA Tour membership for the rest of the year, if he so chooses. That's the same offer Victor Dubuisson just took the Tour up on, so we'll also likely see more of Donaldson the rest of the way.

Dustin Johnson

Another week, another stellar effort for Johnson, clearly at the top of his game as the Masters nears. No, he didn't win again when he was in the mix, but it's hard to win every week. DJ already has a win, two seconds, a T4 this week and a T6. That's a career for some guys.

Adam Scott

With a chance to surpass Woods atop the rankings, Scott opened with a 75 playing alongside him for two rounds and was never a threat, meandering his way to a tie for 25th, the same as Tiger.

Jimmy Walker

He's still atop the FedEx Cup standings, but Walker has certainly been more pedestrian in his past two stroke-play events, a T20 in Los Angeles before tying for 25th this week. Two more top 25s, his eighth and ninth of 2013-14.

Jordan Spieth

Not a peep all week from the wunderkind, whose chances evaporated with a second-round 79. He finished T34. Despite his stellar breakthrough season in 2013, he has found the going tough in the big events, last year missing the cut at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship while notching a T44 at the Open Championship. His best in a WGC was 17th the HSBC Champions earlier this season.

Hideki Matsuyama and Ian Poulter

The Englishman took to Twitter to call out the 22-year-old Japanese rookie for damaging the green with his putter during Friday's round and then not repairing it, with Poulter in the group right behind. Matsuyama apologized before Saturday's round, during which, naturally, the two were paired. Matsuyama proceeded to shoot 71 to his partner's 73. It was Poulter who six years ago did Reed three better by saying that if he's at his best, there are just Woods and him at the top. Poulter has never gotten to No. 1 or 2, but he was No. 5 in 2010 (let's see Reed do that).

Chesson Hadley

With all of the world's best at Doral, the winner of last year's Tour Championship took a big leap in his career by winning the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open. It not only gets Hadley a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, it lands him in the Players Championship and the PGA Championship. This was brewing, as Hadley had been the only PGA Tour rookie with two top 10s this season. He's the first rookie winner since Spieth last year at the John Deere. Afterward, however, Hadley did not declare himself a top-5 player.