The Upshot: Humana, Rd. 4
January 19, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- In the final round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Patrick Reed carded a 1-under 71 to win. (Dunn/Getty Images)
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Patrick Reed started the final round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation with a seven-shot lead after a record-setting performance over the tournament's first 54 holes. He finished off the wire-to-wire win, but not before other players challenged his lead.
Reed opened the Humana with three consecutive 9-under 63s to set the PGA TOUR record for low 54-hole score in relation to par. His 71 on Sunday was good for a 28-under 260 total and two-shot win over Ryan Palmer (63).
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a lot less stressful than I thought,” said Reed, who earned 500 FedExCup points with his victory to move into No. 8 in the standings.
Reed, 23, now owns two victories in 31 starts as a TOUR member; both have come in his past nine starts. He won his first title after beating Jordan Spieth in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship in August.
Reed, who held a five-shot lead at the turn Sunday, was only up by two shots after Zach Johnson's birdie at the par-5 18th hole. Reed responded by making a 17-foot birdie putt at the par-3 15th hole to take a three-shot lead with three holes remaining.
“To birdie 15 and know I sealed it then, it felt comfortable, it felt great,” Reed said. “I was able to play the last three holes just for par rather than trying to make birdies or trying to make something happen.”
He was on the 18th tee when Ryan Palmer made eagle to cut the deficit to two shots again. Reed laid up on the reachable par-5 18th and made an easy par to secure the two-shot victory.
PRESIDENTIAL MATTERS: Reed’s news conference was interrupted for good reason. Former President Bill Clinton was on the line, calling to congratulate the Humana champion. “He was congratulating me, not only on a great win, but also told me to get myself back in that zone more often,” Reed said. “To hear that not only from others, but also hear it from the President, that’s special.” Reed also met President Clinton on the driving range earlier in the week. They talked about the upcoming birth of Reed’s first child, a daughter, who is expected to be born in May. President Clinton and his family also gave the champion an additional gift, a Tiffany crystal plate bearing the Presidential seal.
Reed has now met two presidents. He met President Barack Obama at the White House after leading Augusta State to its first NCAA championship.
SELECT COMPANY: Reed joined select company with this victory. Reed, Harris English and Rory McIlroy are the only players younger than 25 with multiple TOUR victories. Reed joins two major champions and a FedExCup winner as the most recent wire-to-wire winners on TOUR. Reed’s wire-to-wire win was preceded by Henrik Stenson (2013 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola), Phil Mickelson (2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open) and McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open).
Reed’s 28-under 260 tied the second-best score in relation to par in a 72-hole PGA TOUR event. Ernie Els shot 31 under in the 2003 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Reed began the week at No. 69 in the Official World Golf Ranking; this victory clinched his spot in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play. It will be his first start in a World Golf Championships.
OUT OF THE GATES: Palmer finally got off to a good start Sunday, and it resulted in a runner-up finish. He was a combined even-par on the front nine in his first three rounds, versus 17-under par on the back nine.
Palmer made the turn in 32 on Sunday, then played his final five holes in 4 under, including an eagle at No. 18, to shoot 63 and finish at 26-under 262, two shots behind Reed, whom he trailed by 10 shots at the start of the day. This was Palmer’s third top-six finish in his previous four Humana appearances.
“The weather’s always perfect and when I get it going I can shoot low,” Palmer said. “I’m able to come out here and just enjoy the week.”
ON A ROLL: Zach Johnson shot the low round of the week, a 10-under 62, to finish third and continue his impressive recent play. Johnson has finished no worse than eighth in his previous three starts, including a victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and an eighth-place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He also won the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in December and BMW Championship in September. Johnson’s next start will come at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Johnson made birdie on the final five holes Sunday for a back-nine 30. “You just can’t quit in this game,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Justin Leonard also tied for third after shooting a final-round 65. It is Leonard’s second top-10 in five starts this season. He had just one top-10 in 24 starts last season. Leonard laid up at the reachable par-5 18th on Sunday and made par to finish two shots behind Reed.
“It was a 3-iron number, but off of that severe of a downslope, and I’m not the highest long-iron player out here, those rocks in front of the green might have seen some action,” Leonard said. “So I decided to just take 6 out of it and try and get it up-and-down.”
Brian Stuard finished in fifth place. He is No. 9 in the FedExCup after posting three consecutive top-six finishes.