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AP photo by Fernando Llano / Patrick Reed hits hits approach shot to the third green during the final round of the World Golf Championships' Mexico Championship on Sunday at Golf de Club Chapultepec in Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY — Patrick Reed was more concerned about how to save par than how to answer his critics. He was consumed with navigating around the trees from 152 yards away with a gap wedge more than any chatter about his character.

Reed plays golf only for himself. And when it feels as though the world is against him, he plays his best.

A week that began with Brooks Koepka saying he thought Reed cheated when he was penalized for swiping away sand in the Bahamas ended with Reed delivering clutch moments down the stretch Sunday to win the Mexico Championship.

Two shots behind with four holes to play, Reed ran off three straight birdies to overtake a faltering Bryson DeChambeau, closing with a 4-under-par 67 for his second World Golf Championships title. He finished at 18-under 266 and moved to No. 8 in the World Golf Ranking.

As for the outside noise?

"I'm used to it," the 2018 Masters winner said. "Honestly, it's one of those things that at the end of the day, all I can control is me and what I do on and off the golf course. And if I feel like I'm improving each day on and off the golf course and setting a good example for the next generation coming up then that's all I can do, and I feel like I've been doing a good job of that."

If questions remain, they have nothing do with his moxie. Reed made it interesting in the end with a wild tee shot into the trees on the 18th hole, forcing him to chip back to the fairway. He had to two-putt from 35 feet for the eighth victory of his PGA Tour career.

He one-putted 45 times over 72 holes, an astounding performance on the poa greens of Club de Golf Chapultepec. The birdies at the end might not have mattered without par putts from 10 feet on the 11th and eight feet on the 13th as DeChambeau was starting to pull away.

"And then after that, the hole seemed to get a little larger," Reed said.

In a wild final round in which five players had a share of the lead — four were tied heading for the back nine — DeChambeau appeared to seize control with five birdies in a six-hole stretch starting at No. 9. Everyone around him faltered — Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Erik van Rooyen — except Reed, who played bogey-free until he only needed a bogey to win.

DeChambeau missed two good scoring chances on the 15th and 16th, and then he three-putted from 65 feet on the par-3 17th to fall into a tie. Reed seized on the moment. Blocked by the edge of the trees left of the 16th fairway, he hammered a hook with a gap wedge that rolled around the ridge and fed down the slope to three feet from the cup.

Reed never flinched with so much going on around him, on and off the golf course.

He has yet to shake whispers on the tour and heckling from the gallery regarding the Hero World Challenge in December, when video caught him twice swiping away sand behind his ball in a waste area in the Bahamas. Reed accepted the two-shot penalty and said a different camera angle would have shown his club wasn't as close to the ball as it looked.

Koepka became the strongest voice during an interview with SiriusXM in the Bay Area last Monday. Radio host Sway Calloway asked Koepka if Reed was cheating.

"Uh, yeah. I think, yeah, yeah," Koepka said, known for speaking his mind. "I mean, I don't know what he was doing, building sand castles in the sand. But you know, you know where your club is. I mean, I took three months off and I can promise you I know if I touched sand.

"If you play the game, you understand the rules," he said. "You understand the integrity that goes on. I mean, there's no room for it."

Reed said all week that he doesn't listen to what others are playing, he just plays golf.

All he did Sunday was win. If he had anything to prove, it was only to himself.

"Coming into this week, I knew we were in a good pattern and I knew all I needed to do was continue to try to improve on my golf game, but at the same time just block out all the noise, no matter what it was," Reed said. "I feel like I've been able to do that really well throughout my career. I've always been able to — when I get inside the ropes — just focus on what I need to do, and that's play golf."

 

First for Norway

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Viktor Hovland finished first at the Puerto Rico Open to become the first Norwegian winner in PGA Tour history, chipping in for an eagle on the par-5 15th holes and racing in a 30-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th for a one-stroke victory over Josh Teater.

"The only or the first person to play out here was Henry Bjornstad," Hovland said. "I grew up kind of watching him play or following the scores online. So to kind of follow his footsteps and be able to win kind of the first tournament for Norway is really special. A bunch of my friends and just normal people from back home paying attention, which is a lot more than I could ask for."

Hovland overcame a muddy triple bogey on the par-3 11th with the late surge at windy Coco Beach Golf & Country Club. The 22-year-old former Oklahoma State star closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 20-under 268.

Teater closed with a 69 for a career-best place finish. He rebounded from bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 with birdies on 15 and 17. Emiliano Grillo (69), Sam Ryder (69) and Kyle Stanley (68) tied for third at 15 under.

Hovland earned $540,000, a full tour exemption through the 2021-22 season and spots in the PGA Championship and The Players Championship. He won in his 17th start on the tour.

Hovland shot a 64 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round. He earned a PGA Tour card last year in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals after winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, then sweeping low amateur honors at the Masters and U.S. Open last year.

 

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