Brash young American Patrick Reed confidently claimed he’s one of the top five golfers in the world after winning the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
Reed wore Tiger Woods’ trademark red as he wore down the injury-dogged world No.1 and a star-studded field on Sunday to claim victory on Donald Trump’s revamped and unforgiving Blue Monster course in Miami.
Reed became the youngest-ever winner of a WGC event at 23 years, seven months and four days, beating out Woods’ mark from his first WGC win back in 1999 by 26 days.
Despite some late flutters, his bogey on the final hole and even-par 72 for a four-under total was enough for a one-shot victory over Welshman Jamie Donaldson (69) and American Bubba Watson (68), the only other players in red figures.
It was his third US tour win in the past seven months and he’s projected to rise to No.20 in the world rankings.
“I believe in myself, especially with how hard I’ve worked,” said Reed. “I’m one of the top five players in the world. To come out in a field like this and hold on wire to wire, I feel like I’ve proven myself.”
While Reed relished his moment, he shared the spotlight with Woods as the 14-time major champion was badly troubled by back problems, putting his Masters preparations in jeopardy.
Woods started the day three off the lead and in the penultimate pairing but struggled to a six-over 78 to finish five-over in a tie for 25th.
A week after withdrawing from the Honda Classic, Woods grabbed his back after several shots and could barely pull the golf ball out of the hole towards the end of the round.
“It is back spasms, so we’ve done all the protocols and it’s just a matter of keeping everything aligned so I don’t go into that,” Woods said. “It’s the same thing. It flares up. It’s just a matter of keeping it calm and we had a quick turnaround from last week. It will be nice to take this week off and get everything ready for Bay Hill.”
Woods is due to defend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on March 20-23 before he attempts to win his first major since 2008 at Augusta National.
“We’ve got to make sure that we do preventative things to make sure that it doesn’t happen and adjust certain things, whether it’s swing, lifting, whatever it may be,” Woods said. “We’ve done that throughout my career and this is no different.”
Scott Hend was the leading Australian at four-over following a final round 71 and tie for 16th.
World No.2 Adam Scott’s 73 put his challenge for the top spot in the rankings on hold for at least another two weeks, leaving the Queenslander tied with Woods at five-over.
“I hit some poor shots and this course will penalise you,” Scott said. “It wasn’t exactly the week I was looking for.”