Reed holds steady for WGC-Mexico Championship title
4 Min Read
Plays mostly mistake-free golf while others struggle
Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR
MEXICO CITY – Drama of the roller-coaster variety was seemingly everywhere you looked in the final round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
Justin Thomas, the 54-hole leader, spent the day in the trees, once even needing to hit a shot lefthanded. Rory McIlroy struggled on the greens for the third straight day. Jon Rahm finally turned back into a mortal on the inward nine, which he played in even par after touring the previous 27 holes in 14 under.
Then there was Patrick Reed, dressed head-to-toe in black and hitting a series of irons off the tees as he quietly made his way around Club de Golf Chapultepec. He missed fairways, he missed greens, but almost never did he miss when it mattered most, with the putter.
“The hole seemed to get a little larger,” Reed said of his back-nine run, which saw him break a streak of 10 straight pars with birdies at the 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to take control.
It didn’t even matter that someone coughed in his backswing and he sprayed his tee shot into the trees on 18. The bogey only narrowed the margin of victory to one over Bryson DeChambeau (65), and three over Rahm (67) and South Africa’s surprising Erik van Rooyen (70), who tied for third, his best-ever result on the PGA TOUR.
“He deserves it,” said DeChambeau, who played in the group ahead of Reed and came back out to the 18th green to congratulate the winner. “He fought really hard and ultimately beat me.”
World No. 1 McIlroy struggled on the greens and shot 68 to finish solo fifth, his fifth top-five finish in as many starts this season, and was looking forward to a week off. FedExCup and 54-hole leader Thomas was suddenly erratic and shot 73 to tie for sixth with Tyrrell Hatton (68).
There was no question how Reed won this one, as he needed just 98 putts for the week and crushed the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (+11.824). It was his eighth TOUR win, and his second WGC victory as he also won this event when it was contested at Doral (2014).
“I felt like I had something to prove to myself coming into this week,” said Reed, who lost a playoff at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last month, “because I feel like I’ve been playing some really solid golf and just haven’t quite gotten over that hump to get the W.”
In addition to losing to Thomas at the Sentry, Reed was T6 at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. His goal, he said, was to win before the Masters Tournament. Job done.
Reed totaled 45 one-putts for the week, which was six more than any other player. One of the keys to putting on finicky poa annua, he said, is to have a short memory.
“You’re going to hit some great putts that are going to miss,” he said, “and you’re going to hit some bad putts that go in. I’m rolling it really well, and my eyes were working really well.”
His best shot, non-putter division, was probably the 51-degree wedge he hit around the trees at the 16th hole, the ball curving perfectly before pelting the green and spinning to tap-in range. Reed could barely see where the ball wound up, such was the intensity of the sun. But he could hear the crowd’s reaction. The birdie at the next hole gave him a two-shot cushion coming up 18.
Reed is the fourth American (Dustin Johnson twice, Phil Mickelson) to win the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec. With 550 FedExCup points for the win, he moves to fifth in the current standings. He also improves his chances of representing the U.S. in not just the next Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, but also the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.
A year ago, he had a chance to win but shot a final-round 73 to finish T14. Now he’s bringing the trophy back to America. He thanked, in part, his caddie, Kessler Karain.
“I missed a lot of greens,” Reed said of his 10-hole streak of pars from the second through the 11th. “Had to get up and down on the whole front nine. And seeing all those birdies (being posted by DeChambeau in the group in front of them) Kessler was able to pull me back and say, ‘Hey, quit pressing, quit trying to go for everything. Get the ball on the green. Your putter has been working all week, and let’s leave it up to the putter.”
Reed got it on the green, and the putter delivered.
Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and golf.com joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.