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Reed Nails Down Wire-to-Wire Victory at Doral
While all the others in a field boasting the world's top players fell by the wayside, young Patrick Reed emerged on top at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The $9 million PGA Tour event took place at Trump National Doral in Miami.
The 23-year-old Texan closed with an even-par 72 to finish at 4-under 284, one shot ahead of Bubba Watson and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who carded a 4-under 68 and a 2-under 70, respectively.
Reed, who helped lead Augusta State to two NCAA Golf Championships in 2010 and '11, won for the third time in his short PGA Tour career. His earlier wins came in the 2013 Wyndham Championship and the Humana Challenge in January.
But the Cadillac Championship is his biggest title to date, earning him $1.5 million and 550 FedEx Cup points. Reed - despite his previous two victories - qualifies, in another career first, for all the major championships, in becoming the youngest player ever to win a World Golf Championship title.
Reed carded rounds of 68, 75 - on "Black Friday" when the average score at a blustery Blue Monster course was 76, 69 and 72. With a two-stroke lead on the famed, water-lined 18th hole, he cautiously used a long-iron off the tee, hit up short, then placed his third shot to 30 feet and two-putted for the win.
When asked at greenside for the key to his steady 72-hole performance, Reed said, "Staying patient. I was hitting the ball so good and my putting was outstanding."
Reed got off to a good start Sunday, recording three birdies and a bogey on the first four holes. From that point forward, it was all pars until the 14th hole, which he bogeyed, then three more pars before the meaningless bogey on the last.
Reed's strong sense of self-belief carried him through at the Blue Monster, which was totally remodeled by architect Gil Hanse after New York real-estate mogul Donald Trump bought Doral Resort last year. "Around this golf course you have to be confident," he noted, "and I feel I did that well this week . . . I believe in myself and how hard I've worked . . . I think I'm a top-five player.
"To come out in a field like this and to hold on wire-to-wire like that, I feel I've proven myself."
Only the top-three finishers ended up under par for the tournament. Sharing fourth at even-par 288 were South Africa's Richard Sterne (71) and Dustin Johnson (72), while Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (68), Scotland's Stephen Gallacher (69) and Bill Haas (71) tied for sixth at 289.
Reed's closest pursuers at the start of Sunday, Tour veterans Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan, had disappointing finishes, each carding 4-over 76s to fall into a tie for ninth at 2-over 290 with South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (68) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (73).
The Netherlands' Joost Luiten (72) shared 13th at 291 with Matt Kuchar (74) and 50-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez (75).
Jonas Blixt matched Tiger Woods' 66 on Saturday as the low round of the week to rise into a tie for 16th with fellow Swede Henrik Stenson (69), Spain's Sergio Garcia (69), Australian Scott Hend (71), South African George Coetzee (71) and Americans Gary Woodland (71), Harris English (72), Phil Mickelson (74) and Zach Johnson (76).
Woods' third-round 6-under score brought him to within only three strokes of Reed. But the defending champion - a seven-time winner at Doral - struggled Sunday, going 12 strokes higher with a six-bogey 78 to fall into a tie for 25th at 5-over 293 with, among others, fellow major champions Adam Scott of Australia (73) and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (75), and this season's only three-time winner Jimmy Walker (76).
For the first time in his stellar 79-win career, Woods didn't make a birdie in the final round and tied his worst-ever Sunday score. He seemed to be nursing his sore back - which caused Woods to withdraw from last week's Honda Classic after 67 holes.
"It basically started on six," Woods said of his final-round woes. "The second shot out of the bunker, my foot was out of the bunker. That's what set it off and then it was done after that."
For all the scores, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/cadillac-championship/leaderboard.html.