Patrick Reed outlasted a handful of the best golfers in the world on Sunday at the WGC-Mexico Championship with a final-round 67 to win his second career WGC by one stroke over Bryson DeChambeau.
This either concludes or exacerbates what has been a wild two months for the former Masters champion. It started in December at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where Reed was penalized two strokes for moving sand around in a bunker. For the past eight weeks, he's been questioned, scrutinized and even called a cheat by anyone and everyone involved with golf. Somehow, the story picked up steam this week (two months later!) when Brooks Koepka and former CBS Sports broadcaster Peter Kostis both called him out.
Reed's non-verbal response: A win in Mexico.
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He shot 69-63-67-67 for the 18-under 266 number and put his name on this tournament's trophy for the second time (albeit the first at this course). He did it the way Patrick Reed does it, too. Fourth in the field around the greens. First in putting. His world-class short game included just 98 putts on the week, which is an astounding number -- the best (and maybe most important) of which came on the 71st hole of the event, for birdie, a two-stroke lead and (more or less) the win.
"It's very rewarding," Reed told Golf Channel. "My team and I worked so hard through the end of last year and the beginning of this year. We kept on feeling like we were playing some good golf and just weren't getting over that hump."
So the Reed narrative gets more complex. Winning events means he's going to be in the conversation even more often, both good and bad. He'll be among the favorites at the Masters. He'll shoot up the Official World Golf Rankings. He might make it into the Olympics and possibly even the Ryder Cup.
When asked about everything that's been going on earlier in the week, Reed was dismissive.
"For me, I just go out there and try to play the best golf I can," he said. "Try to improve on and off the golf course each and every day, and if I feel like I'm doing that, then I'm living the right way and I'm working as hard as I need to be working."
All of this is good for Reed, of course, but it's also good for golf. I'm not going to tell you how to feel about Reed, his antics or his history; my Twitter timeline speaks for itself. But stories are only as good as the heroes and villains who make them up, and a leaderboard rife with big names was full of both. That's awesome, and Reed's game has maybe never been better than it is right now. Just in time for another round of shots in his direction as he continues to absorb and use them as fuel for whatever it is that drives Patrick Reed as one of the best golfers in the world. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship.
Jon Rahm (T3): Incredibly, he was 4 over at the turn on Friday before playing his next 32 holes in 19 under (with a bogey!). He touched the lead and immediately pulled back from it, but that was as scorching a two-day heater as you're going to find on the PGA Tour. He's terrifying no matter the event, no matter the board, no matter the score. Grade: A
Rory McIlroy (5th): Weird week for McIlroy. After faltering late at Riviera and a 65 in Round 1, it felt like this was his week. But he lost strokes to the field with his putter over the last three days and never really got out and galloped on the weekend like the rest of the board did. Honestly, I thought his run of 11 holes on Friday in Round 2 in which he played 1 over before finally finding a groove is where the tournament slipped away from him a little bit. Grade: A-
Justin Thomas (T6): Did not envision that 73 from J.T. on Sunday. Nor did I envision him getting run down by Tyrrell Hatton and nearly Billy Horschel, who were a combined 14 back of him when the day started. His tee-to-green performance on Sunday, however, was Mickelsonian. Sixty-seventh in strokes gained off the tee. Fifty-ninth in strokes gained tee to green. This is how you shoot 73 in the final round of a big event. Zero concerns long-term, but it was not the Sunday I thought it would be for Thomas (which tells you how good he's been over the course of his career on Sundays that my expectation is for him to put things away early). Grade: B
Dustin Johnson (T48): If you would have made me bet my life over whether Dustin Johnson would finish under or not under par this week at Golf Club de Chapultepec, I would no longer have a life. After winning this event in two of three years, Johnson opened with a 76 and finished at even-par for the week. It's been a bit of an up-and-down season for him thus far, and I don't have a ton of confidence heading into major championship season. Grade: C