For most of the final round of the World Golf Championship (WGC) Cadillac Championship Sunday afternoon, Tiger Woods grimaced from lower back pain, and Patrick Reed gained on the field of the top golfers in the world. In the end, Reed had to hang on for what would turn out to be a one-shot victory at Doral’s “Blue Monster,” while Woods limped in with a final-round 78 to finish in a tie for 25th at 5-over.
Reed started out with a three-stroke lead at minus-4, and quickly went to 6-under with three birdies and a bogey on the first four holes. It looked like it was going to be an easy win as he reeled off nine straight pars on the fifth through 13th holes. The lead still looked comfortable after his bogey on the par-4 14th.
Jamie Donaldson, however, put pressure on the 23-year old Reed for the first time all day when he birdied the par-4 17th hole and cut the lead to just one. Reed continued his strategy of making pars, going even through 15, 16 and 17, then watching as Donaldson missed a long putt on 18 and made bogey. With a two-stroke lead and needing no worse than bogey on the final hole, Reed hit iron off of the tee. A layup, a chip and two putts later, Patrick Reed had his third PGA victory in the last seven months.
Woods was never a factor on the final day, after shooting himself into contention on Saturday with a tournament-best 66. Woods was clearly bothered early in his round by the pain in his lower back that caused him to withdraw from the Honda Classic last week, and to miss two practice rounds this week for treatments. He carded three bogeys on the front nine and never made an appearance on the leader board after that. Woods and Jim Furyk finished as the only two players without a birdie on their scorecards for the day.
As Woods dealt with the pain, Reed gained the distinction of being the youngest player ever to win a WGC event. His 284 total was one better than Donaldson and Bubba Watson’s. Watson began the day at one-over par, and put himself in contention with a 4-under 68.
Phil Mickelson never mounted any kind of a charge, finishing at 4-over par after a final round of 74. Lefty had two birdies and four bogeys. Australia’s Adam Scott came into the WGC Cadillac Championship with a chance of claiming the number-one ranking in the world with a win and a sixth-place finish by Tiger Woods. He tied with Woods for 25th, never having a round better than even-par 72 over the four days.
Now Woods will have almost a month to let the pain subside before the Masters in April, and Patrick Reed is happy just to have gained an invitation to the season’s first major. The Masters will be the closest thing to a home game for the young gun from San Antonio, Texas. Reed played college golf at Augusta State University, just 2.7 miles from Augusta National, where the tournament is played.
By Chuck Podhaisky