DORAL, FLORIDA – He wore black pants and a red shirt, his Sunday colors. He took a lead into the final round, quickly expanded it with a pair of birdies and then relied on his short game to keep everyone chasing him. He even played it safe off the 18th tee, caring more about the trophy than the final score.
That script for years belonged to Tiger Woods.
Patrick Reed followed it perfectly to win the Cadillac Championship, replacing Woods as the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship.
“The best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants, a red shirt,” Reed said after closing with an even-par 72 for a one-shot victory at Doral. “I was growing up watching him. I always thought, ‘You know, it would be cool to wear black and red coming down on Sunday.’
“Just happens to be that we both wear it on Sunday now.”
Only one of them stood out at the new Blue Monster. Even with Woods and his red shirt only three shots behind and in the group directly in front of him, the 23-year-old Reed stretched his lead to four shots at one point until making a pair of bogeys in the final hour. He held off Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson of Wales.
Woods, in his best chance this year to win a tournament, said his back flared up after an awkward shot out of the bunker on the sixth hole. He failed to make a birdie in the final round for the first time in his PGA Tour career, and his 78 was his worst Sunday score ever.
“Just let me get through this day, get some treatment and we’ll assess it as time goes on,” Woods said about his back. He withdrew from the Honda Classic after 13 holes of the final round last week because of back spasms.
Reed has three wins in 14 starts and should move to No. 20 in the world. He feels his ranking should be even better. Reed cited an amateur career that includes going 6-0 in matches to lead Augusta State to two NCAA titles, followed by three PGA Tour wins in seven months.
“I don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game,” Reed said. “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.”
He joined some exclusive company. Since 1990, only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia had three PGA Tour wins before turning 24.
This was not an accident, either.
Reed has had a share of the lead going into the final round of all three of his victories — the Wyndham Championship last August, the Humana Challenge in January and a World Golf Championship at Doral that featured the strongest field so far this year.
His last two wins were wire-to-wire, including ties.
Watson, who won at Riviera three weeks ago, went bogey-free over the final 27 holes, a strong performance on the overhauled Trump National Doral. He closed with a 68, finishing with par after blasting through the palms, into the grandstand and back into the rough.
Donaldson wasn’t so fortunate. He hit into a foot on the 17th for his third birdie on the back nine to get within one shot of the lead. From the 18th fairway — after watching Miguel Angel Jimenez go through the green and into the water — he blocked his approach away from the flag and into the back bunker. Donaldson blasted out to just inside 15 feet and missed the par putt. He closed with a 70.
Reed finished at 4-under 284, matching the highest winning score at Doral. Mark McCumber won at 284 in 1985. He earned $1.53 million, pushing his season total over $3 million, and he moves to No. 3 in the Ryder Cup standings.
Reed, Donaldson and Watson were the only players to finish under par.