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Stat attack! Humana Challenge statistical review

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Ultimately, Patrick Reed had nothing to worry about. No player has ever blown a seven-stroke lead through three rounds in a 72-hole PGA Tour event. Now that you know that statistical oddity, you can look at Reed’s two-stroke win over Ryan Palmer at the Humana Challenge in a different light.

Although he struggled for most of the final round, until a clutch birdie putt on the 15th hole (more on that later), Reed’s week in Palm Springs was nothing short of stellar. He became the third player under age 25 with multiple Tour victories, and he came within one stroke of tieing the record for lowest aggregate score through 54 holes.

He became the youngest winner in Humana history since Jack Nicklaus, also 23, won in 1963. And he became the first player in Tour history to shoot 63 or better in the first three rounds of the same tournament.

Multiple PGA Tour winners currently under age 25

Player Wins Age Birthday
Rory McIlroy 6 24 May 4, 1989
Harris English 2 24 July 23, 1989
Patrick Reed 2 23 August 5, 1990

Lowest first 54 holes in a PGA Tour event

Steve Stricker 188 (60-66-62) 2010 John Deere Classic
Patrick Reed 189 (63-63-63) 2014 Humana Challenge
Phil Mickelson 189 (60-65-64) 2013 Waste Management Phx. Open
Mark Calcavecchia 189 (65-60-64) 2001 Phoenix Open
John Cook 189 (64-63-62) 1996 St. Jude Classic

Reed did set the record for lowest score to par over the first 54 holes of an event. His 27-under total was the result of playing on three par-72 courses, while Stricker’s mark came on a par-70 venue and the others were on par-71 courses.

But Reed did make things interesting Sunday. With Zach Johnson shooting 62, Ryan Palmer shooting 63 and Justin Leonard lurking all day, there was pressure on Reed throughout the round.

He hit fairways and greens at a slightly diminished pace from his first three days (eight fairways and 13 greens Sunday; an average of 9.3 fairways and 14.7 greens in the first three rounds), but it was his putting that took a distinct downturn over the final 18 holes.

Until he made the long putt on 15, Reed made barely more than 22 feet of putts in his first 14 holes. It's what made his 17-foot, 5-inch birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole so surprising and so important. For the day, he made a little more than 50 feet worth of putts, which means that one-third of his total distance of putts made came on the 15th.

ShotLink data was only available on the Palmer Course at the Humana Challenge, but a look at the difference between Reed’s opening 63 on the Palmer Course and his final round is instructive.

Patrick Reed on the Palmer Course at the Humana Challenge

Day Avg. distance of putts made Putts from more than 5 1/2 feet Strokes gained-putting
Thursday 7 feet, 4 inches 10 +5.625
Sunday 2 feet, 10 inches 1 -2.073

With ShotLink data unavailable at the Nicklaus and La Quinta courses, we have to look at conventional statistics to see how well he putted in Rounds 2 and 3. It also offers another difference between Reed’s early rounds and his Sunday play.On Thursday, Reed made six putts in 10 attempts from 10-25 feet. On Sunday he made just one of seven.

Patrick Reed’s number of putts per round

Day Total Putts No-Putts One-Putts Two-Putts Three-Putts
Thursday 25 0 11 7 0
Friday 26 0 10 8 0
Saturday 24 1 10 7 0
Sunday 32 0 4 14 0
Total 107 1 35 36 0

Reed was in double digits in one-putt holes in each of the first three rounds. It helped him to three consecutive 63s, and resulted in the lowest first-round score of his career, the lowest third-round score of his career, and it tied his career best in the second round.

It was the third time in his career Reed had three rounds of 60 in the same week. Of course, he didn’t follow with another low round Sunday. His 1-under 71 not only kept Reed from scoring in the 60s in all four rounds for the first time in his PGA Tour career, it also marked a rare round of 70 or higher for a winner at the Humana.

Humana Challenge winners with a round in the 70s since 2000

2014 Patrick Reed 71 Fourth Round
2008 D.J. Trahan 70 Fourth Round
2007 Charley Hoffman 70, 71 Second, Fifth Rounds
2006 Chad Campbell 71 Fifth Round
2002 Phil Mickelson 70 Third Round

Finally, according to the Tour, Reed is the first player to hold the outright lead every day of the Humana since Rik Massengale in 1977. It was a five-round tournament back then. If the Humana were a five-round event this year, Reed might not have hung on to win.