OpinionTuesday, March 11, 2014
Patrick Reed tames the monster
Burly Patrick Reed is brimful of confidence and unafraid of anything, including golf’s worst spect, getting in his own way.
The Odesur Games have not been generating huge interest in the sport pages. As window-dressing for the Pan-American Games, which in turn prepare and qualify for the Olympic Games, they deserve their place in the sporting agenda; for rugby, embarked on the road to Rio 2016, they certainly garnered sufficient interest.
A decade ago in the Ford Championship, Craig Parry brought Doral’s signature “Blue Monster” closing hole to its knees when he canned a 6-iron from 176 yards for playoff victory over Scott Verplank.
23-year old Reed didn’t require such heroics. Standing on the final tee with a two shot advantage, he carefully picked his way down that scary closing alley with three safe iron shots and two putts to clinch the biggest cheque (1.53m dollars) of his brief PGA Tour career.
Many will recall Reed’s emotional playoff win over Jordan Speith at last year’s Wyndham Championship. There he recovered from an almost out of bounds flared-right drive with a brilliant 7-iron to six feet for victory, endearing himself to all in an emotional embrace with wife-caddie Justine.
Six months pregnant, she’s no longer on the bag but was on hand for another huge victory hug and to listen as her husband announced in his post round interview he now believes he has become one of the top five players in the world.
Heat of the moment hyperbole perhaps, prompted by Reed’s remarkable final seven holes of sand saves and putting, the result of errant ball control where Reed hit just two greens and three fairways in regulation.
Yet by holding tough to win in that final section of the challenge, where mind control is undoubtedly the most crucial component, Reed’s assessment of his own position in the game could prove to be more accurate than that of any casual observer. Only time and his attention to one obvious technical flaw — his sliding left foot, causing a sometime loss of solidity at impact — will tell the full story.
Gil Hanse’s recent remodeling of the Blue Monster came in for broad player criticism. With water added almost everywhere, when the wind howled Friday the average score ballooned to 76.2 and most competitors claimed the changes severely overdone. During the four championship rounds 318 balls were lost in water, an average of 4.7 per player. The all-time previous high was 220.
Spectators packed into the giant bleachers at the 18th on Sunday saw just two birdies there all day. Notable stars Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer and Mateo Manassero cumulatively finished 99-over par.
Tiger Woods, the defending champion, limped off the course after a no-birdie 78, heading for more medical advice on his ailing lumbar, saying he’s still hoping to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two week’s time at Bay Hill.