Patrick Reed enjoys drama-free Sunday to win Farmers Insurance Open
Patrick Reed played nearly bogey-free golf in Sunday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
No rules issues — such as the controversial “embedded” ball incident that occurred on the 10th hole in Saturday’s third round — arose as Reed toured the South Course at Torrey Pines with a 4-under 68 to deliver a five-shot victory.
“It was amazing,” said Reed, who became the first player since George Burns in 1987 to win the Farmers after leading after the first round. “It’s a true test out there. You have to be resilient when you’re out there playing because you could hit some quality golf shots and end up in the wrong spots, you’re having to grind and try to get up and down.”
Five players — Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Henrik Norlander, Ryan Palmer and local favorite Xander Schauffele — tied for second at 9-under.
None of them could mount a charge over the final nine holes to make things interesting. Along with other challengers such as third-round co-leader Carlos Ortiz, Sam Burns, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, they either spun their wheels or watched them come off.
It allowed Reed to cruise through the closing holes with eight straight pars before making an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 14-under 274 total.
Reed positioned himself for victory on the front nine — while others stumbled — with five straight pars before nailing a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 sixth hole. A birdie at the par-4 seventh got him to 13-under and he was on his way toward the $1.35 million winner’s check.
Truth is, the real drama was removed two months ago when the Century Club announced no fans would be allowed on the course for the tournament.
While Reed was pummeled on social media for Saturday’s incident, he was left largely alone Sunday at Torrey Pines because, after all, who was there to heckle?
Whatever whispers there were among his peers were not audible, even on the quiet course.
“The talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess” Schauffele said, “but he’s protected by the tour and that’s all that matters, I guess.”
Without spectators on the property, Reed largely avoided the course of public opinion.
Would he have received cheers or jeers coming up the 18th fairway? In a normal year, perhaps 3,000 people would have been in the grandstands and along the rope line surrounding the green.
On Sunday, there were three dozen people there, most of them media members.
While other Farmers champions would have enjoyed the walk up to tremendous applause, here’s how it went for Reed:
A lone marshal clapped for him as he walked off the 18th tee box.
After his second shot, a man on a balcony at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines whistled, clapped and yelled, “Let’s go, Patrick.”
Two dozen people were on some Hilton balconies adjacent to where Reed hit his third shot.
“(Expletive) cheater,” one shouted. “Muff it.”
“Captain America,” yelled another, referring to a nickname the golfer earned during the Ryder Cup.
Reed tipped his cap.
“Cheaters prosper,” a woman then shouted.
As Reed arrived at the green, a marshal clapped politely before raising a “Keep Calm” sign.
A handful of others clapped — calmly — when his final putt dropped.
Immediately after his ninth PGA Tour win, Reed was asked about the “noise” and “criticism” that followed him off the course Saturday afternoon and accompanied him when he returned to Torrey Pines on Sunday morning.
“When I’m in tournament weeks I don’t ever look at anything,” said Reed, who, in fact, did post an incident-related tweet Saturday night.
He added: “Going into today, I felt good, I felt confident and really went to the golf course, plugged in my headphones and just kind of got in my world with my coach and got to that first tee.”
“The golf course is hard,” Reed said. “I mean, you definitely know why it’s a U.S. Open venue and just kind of seeing it this week and seeing kind of how tough it played in certain conditions definitely shows how much harder it’s going to play once June comes around with a little firmer, faster greens and also with thicker rough.”
It seemed plenty challenging for everyone else on this day.
Ortiz fell out of the lead when he bogeyed the first hole and kept backing up from there. Seven more bogeys and a double bogey followed for a 6-over 78 that dropped him to a tie for 29th.
Hovland, the second-round leader, managed a 1-under 71, undone by three bogeys on the back nine. His bugaboo for the second straight round was the 14th hole, where he again put his second shot out of bounds for a one-stroke penalty.
Hovland managed to limit the damage to a bogey — he double-bogeyed the hole Saturday— but it dropped him two shots behind Reed and began a stretch of three bogeys in four holes.
So much for any theatrics down the stretch.
“It’s so easy to just let things kind of slip away,” Hovland said.
Finau, Norlander and Schauffele all shot 69 and Palmer shot 70. But Finau and Norlander had as many bogeys (3) and birdies (3) on the back nine.
Palmer and Schauffele each had a pair of birdies on the back, but it was too little, too late.
Rahm, the 2017 Farmers winner and last year’s runner-up, seemed the most frustrated of those who failed to challenge.
He started the day one stroke off the lead, three-putted for bogey on the first hole and became more visually disturbed as the round progressed before finishing with a 72.
His frequent reaction during the day when a drive went offline or a putt missed the mark was to throw up his hands in disbelief.
Reed knows all about the game’s ups and downs. This week he enjoyed victory, even amid controversy.
“That’s why I love the game,” Reed said. “It throws punches at you, you throw punches at it and at the end of the day hopefully you’re the one standing.”
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