Monday Finish: Reed's red-hot putter, Hovland's dramatic first victory
February 24, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Patrick Reed's winning highlights from WGC-Mexico
Bryson DeChambeau might have looked like the winner for most of Sunday at the World Golf Championships–Mexico Championship, but you can never underestimate Patrick Reed when it comes to a challenge. Reed stalked DeChambeau throughout the final round in Mexico City with dagger after dagger on the putting surface, then pounced late when a chance presented itself. The win is Reed’s eighth on the PGA TOUR and second WGC–Mexico Championship title (previously won at Doral) to go with his 2018 Masters triumph and two FedExCup Playoffs wins. He knows how to perform on the big stage. Elsewhere, Viktor Hovland came of age with his win at the Puerto Rico Open, delivering on the ultra-high expectations he has had to deal with since turning pro last year.
Welcome to the Monday Finish.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. Putting. For Reed, you cannot look past his incredible career-best putting performance at Club de Golf Chapultepec. The 29-year-old outperformed the field by +2.956 per round in Strokes Gained: Putting. It was the third time in his career where he led the field in SG: Putting and second time this season. Reed made 10 of 16 putts from 10-20 feet, a career-best percentage of 62.5 percent. He had the same percentage of one-putts to lead the field in that category and needed just 98 putts for the week, also a tournament-leading statistic. He also led all players by converted 54.5 percent of his birdie putts when hitting a green in regulation. It was near-unconscious stuff. “The hole seemed to get a little larger,” Reed said modestly. Read more on the key numbers here.
2. Laser Focus. Reed could have easily been knocked off his rhythm as the crowd really got behind a couple other players on the golf course. First, Jon Rahm had the crowd going with four birdies in his first five holes off the back of a course-record 61 on Saturday. While Reed was making nothing but pars after his first hole birdie, Rahm quickly joined him at 15 under. But the American refused to panic and, eventually, Rahm’s incredible run cooled. Overnight leader Justin Thomas, playing with Reed, was in the middle of a roller-coaster ride. It was the sort of play that can also easily distract, as his swing sent him into several tree-laden areas, but Reed stayed in his own bubble. Then, DeChambeau started a run up the leaderboard with six birdies (and one bogey) in a seven-hole stretch between the sixth and 12th holes. Through it all, Reed stayed steadfast and then, when the time was right, made his run. Two back with four to play, Reed birdied 15 and 16 to join the lead and when DeChambeau bogeyed 17, Reed went for the jugular. His third straight birdie set up a two-shot cushion heading to the last, allowing him to finish with a bogey and still claim the win and move to fifth in the FedExCup standings. Read all about the win here.
3. Having fun. Shifting from Mexico City to Puerto Rico, we get the coming of age for Norway’s Viktor Hovland. Hovland won in just his 17th PGA TOUR start – making the first rookie to win this season and the first Norwegian winner on the PGA TOUR – at just 22 years of age. After a storied amateur career, expectations have long been high for the youngster and despite being not even 12 months into his professional career, those expectations had started to get to him. The smiling assassin admitted he was getting annoyed with his inability to close out a win while other young guns Matthew Wolfe and Collin Morikawa had already done so. But after a good talk with caddie Shay Knight, the pair resolved to get back to having fun on the golf course, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Despite losing a three-shot lead in a single hole on the back nine, Hovland’s attitude stayed strong, and a clever chip-in eagle, plus a strong 30-foot birdie putt to win it all on the last, has ensured the expectations will remain high from here on out. Read about his impressive win here.
Viktor Hovland's winning highlights from Puerto Rico
Class is undefeated. Justin Thomas started with the 54-hole lead and was clearly the man to beat in Mexico City heading into Sunday. He’d finished T5, runner-up (in a playoff) and ninth in his previous three starts at Club de Golf Chapultepec, so it appeared this might be his time. But Sunday was one of those days, and he battled his way around the course to a 73 and T6 finish. Despite the disappointment, he went out of his way to make one local fan's week. Jeronimo, an 11-year-old who had dressed in his best golf attire all week and followed Thomas’ every move, was treated to a locker room visit. Rory McIlroy did something similar a year earlier. And countless good deeds are done by those in defeat on TOUR every week. Bryson DeChambeau, having thrown away his chance at a win with a costly three-putt on the 17th, came out to the 18th green to congratulate Presidents Cup teammate Reed. It is nice to get regular reminders of how great kindness can be. Read about it all here.
A Mexican win in Mexico might not be that far away. Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz may not have featured down the stretch on Sunday, but the two Mexican players should be super proud for finishing inside the top 20. Ancer was T12 and Ortiz T16, easily the best performance by local players since the tournament made the move to Mexico in 2017. Ancer, particularl,y has long looked like a PGA TOUR winner – and his efforts at the Presidents Cup last December solidified that feeling. In 2017, when the event began in Mexico City, the exemption category for the highest-ranked Mexican appeared to some as just a token spot in the field. However, these two and others creating more depth in Mexican golf, and the exposure both this event and the Mayakoba Golf Classic continue to bring, should ensure the future is bright for golf in the nation. More on their efforts here.
Did we get a look at the next South African PGA TOUR star? South Africa has produced plenty of PGA TOUR mainstays in the last few decades, with the likes of Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen, among others. Perhaps Erik van Rooyen is the next one we should become familiar with. His T3 finish has him very close to securing Special Temporary Membership on the PGA TOUR, and his play has all but assured him a berth in his first PLAYERS Championship. Starting the week 52nd in the world, he needed to get inside the top 50 before March 2. He is now 40th and can start to seek accommodations around TPC Sawgrass.
“I felt like I had something to prove to myself coming into this week 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.” – Patrick Reed.
“I fight until the end, and I'll fight every single shot, and that's what I do, and that's why I think I'm so consistent. I do care. Obviously I want to win, but I also do care about giving my 100 percent every time. If there was one day where I didn't give 100 percent, I wouldn't be able to live with myself.” – Jon Rahm
“If you had told me I was going to finish tied sixth this week, I'd have been over the moon.” – Tyrell Hatton, who returned after a long break.
“The first person to play out here… Henry Bjornstad. I grew up watching him play or following the scores online. So to kind of follow his footsteps and be able to win the first tournament for Norway is really special.” – Viktor Hovland.
“It was a train wreck, but I'm glad it ended up being OK after that.” – Hovland again on losing a three-shot lead Sunday with a triple bogey on the 11th hole.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is a season-long competition that offers a $10 million bonus for the 10 golfers who end the regular season at the Wyndham Championship inside the top 10 in FedExCup points. The player atop the standings will earn $2 million, with varying payoffs for the others through $500,000 for the 10th place finisher.
While Justin Thomas held on to tge top spot this week, there were some significant changes. Rory McIlroy jumped from fifth into second place, while Patrick Reed’s win in Mexico saw him rocket from 33rd to fifth. Kevin Na also fought his way from outside the top 10 into the ninth spot meaning, Sungjae Im and Marc Leishman are the two to fall out of the rewards zone.
Other significant movers this week who will have their sights on the top 10 in coming weeks were Jon Rahm (30th to 18th), Bryson DeChambeau (67th to 24th) and Viktor Hovland (131st to 39th).
Here’s how the standings look heading into The Honda Classic this week.
THIS WEEK LAST WEEK PLAYER 1. 1. Justin Thomas 2. 5. Rory McIlroy 3. 2. Webb Simpson 4. 3. Brendon Todd 5. 33. Patrick Reed 6. 4. Lanto Griffin 7. 6. Sebastian Munoz 8. 7. Hideki Matsuyama 9. 11. Kevin Na 10. 9. Cameron Smith
Viktor Hovland's win, as heard in Norway. 🎙🇳🇴 pic.twitter.com/mEcDvGXePI— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 24, 2020