Reed, Woods throw up red flags Sunday at Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 10, 2014, 12:55 am

Doral, Fla. – For the second consecutive year the guy in the red shirt won the PGA Tour’s south Florida siesta otherwise known as the WGC-Cadillac Championship, just not the guy the majority of the golf public thought it would be.

It’s far too early to declare Patrick Reed the other guy just yet, that kind of high cotton only arrives after a six-pack of majors and a dozen Tour tilts, but there is no denying that the 23-year-old has gone a long way to back up all that brashness.

On Sunday, under the most glaring spotlight of his young career, Reed held off the deepest field of the year for a one-stroke victory and his first World Golf Championship.

If comparisons to Tiger Woods seem a tad too farfetched when it comes to Reed, consider that he has now won three Tour events in his last 14 starts and climbed from 370th in the world at this point last year to inside the top 20 with his victory at the new Doral thanks to a stellar short game and an inner belief that belies his resume.

“My whole team behind me they know how good I am and they believe I'm a top‑5 player in the world. And I believe it, as well,” said Reed, who closed with a 72 to edge Bubba Watson (68) and Jamie Donaldson (70) by a shot.

Misplaced confidence is part of professional golf, consider it a job requirement or an occupational hazard, depending on one’s point of view. Either way, doubt is the easiest way to squander potential and if Reed rubs some the wrong way with his self-belief consider the fact that he’s come by it honestly.

Josh Gregory saw it the first time he met Reed, who was leaving the University of Georgia after one year and was looking to transfer to Augusta (Ga.) State.

“My job is to convince players they are twice as good as they are,” said Gregory, who was the golf coach at Augusta State at the time. “(Reed) didn’t need to be told how good he is.”

That confidence will likely only grow following Reed’s victory at Doral, where he began the final round two shots clear of the field and birdied three of his first four holes.

Although things wouldn’t go entirely to script with a bogey at the 14th hole to drop him to 3 under, a miscue at the last by Donaldson would give Reed a cushion to play the potentially devastating last hole in an uncharacteristically conservative manner.

Reed hit 7-iron short of the 18th fairway, punched up to 76 yards with his second and two-putted for victory and has now turned all three of his 54-hole leads into Tour titles.

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“I asked, ‘What’s Donaldson at?’ and heard he’d missed a 15‑footer (at No. 18) so he made bogey,” Reed said. “I was playing for that right rough and laid up with 7‑iron, hit a little wedge to the middle of the green and easy two‑putt.”

But if Reed’s results have finally caught up with his confidence, Woods enters his final run up to the Masters with a balky back and a game that ebbs and flows depending on his medical status.

Through his first three holes on Sunday, Woods hit a water hazard and two fans. It’s not often the world No. 1 signs more gloves during the round than he normally does after the round but such is life for Woods in 2014, a calendar which features just 10 rounds on the Tour and only a single completed card on a Sunday.

Woods opened his day with a drive that sailed right of the first fairway and clunked a fan on the head, followed by another at the third that caromed back into the fairway.

“Everybody OK?” Woods asked the fans along the third fairway.

He was not.

Before hitting his 5-iron approach shot into the third, Woods tried to loosen his back with a few simple twists. It didn’t work and his approach sailed into the lake for the second time in three days.

By the turn he was eight strokes back and moving gingerly, again. Woods withdrew from the Honda Classic after just 13 holes a week ago and he spent the better part of Sunday on his way to a closing 78 and a tie for 25th place stretching what was obviously a tender back.

“If I feel good I can actually make a pretty decent swing. You saw it (Saturday, when he carded a 66),” said Woods, whose last scheduled start before next month’s Masters will be the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks. “I actually can make some good swings and shoot a good score, but if I’m feeling like this it’s a little tough.”

In Woods’ defense, the entire field likely felt a little tender after four trips around the nip/tucked Blue Monster. Donald Trump wanted the hardest golf course on the PGA Tour and with an assist from Mother Nature on Friday – when winds gusted to 35 mph – he, and architect Gil Hanse, succeeded.

The week’s scoring average (73.852) makes Doral the toughest course in 2014. That’s nearly 2 ½ strokes harder than the course average last year (71.35), when 19 under was the winning total compared to Reed’s 4 under finish.

“I think it needs to mature a little bit, tweak it here and there,” said Watson, who has a victory and two runner-up finishes in 2014. “I never looked at the green on No. 9 because for me being a lefty, all it takes is the ball going a little bit to the right and rolls off the green into the water. I think it's very severe.”

With the possible exception of Trump, Reed may have been the only person giving the Blue Monster a perfect score in its debut, but then what else would one expect from the winner or a player with as much confidence as the Texan?

On Saturday night, Reed raised eyebrows in certain circles when he said he considered himself a top-5 player in an NBC Sports interview. It was a telling glimpse into the mind of a player who appears precariously perched between confident and cocky.

The same could be said for Reed’s choice of a Sunday wardrobe, which dates back to his junior days. But one shouldn’t confuse confidence for careful respect.

“The best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants, a red shirt,” Reed said. “I was growing up watching him, I always thought, you know, it would be cool to wear black and red come down Sunday. You know, it’s worked.”

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry