For the first time since his inspired victory at the 2018 Masters, Patrick Reed is a PGA Tour champion.
A resoundingly mediocre season by the now seven-time Tour winner, Reed had been trending positively for the past month-plus, and off the strength of a pristine back-nine on Sunday, he chased down Jon Rahm and won The Northern Trust, the first event of the re-configured FedExCup playoffs, by one stroke over Abraham Ancer.
With the victory at Liberty National Golf Club, Reed jumped all the way from 50th in the FedExCup standings to second-place, and now trails only Brooks Koepka by 206 points.
Reed had come into the final round with a one-stroke lead over Ancer, but stumbled out of the gate with bogeys on three of his first six holes. Three front-nine birdies kept him from falling too far down the board, but after four straight pars to open the back nine, Reed still found himself two shy of Rahm with time running low.
However, Rahm, who came into the week off of five consecutive top-11 finishes, carded back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 to fall from his perch. Reed calmly birdied Nos. 14 and 16, and leading Ancer by one going into the final hole, needed just a par putt from three feet to post a 2-under 69 and seal the victory.
Ancer, who was attempting to capture his first Tour victory, had birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to give himself a shot, but a poor approach into the 18th green left a long birdie putt that he was unable to convert.
The win put an end to a statistical oddity where the past four Masters Champions had failed to win a PGA Tour event since donning the green jacket.
Just one playoff event remains before Tiger Woods defends his Tour Championship at East Lake, the BMW Championship, which tees off in Chicago next week. Just 70 players remain in the chase, after 55 had been eliminated upon the conclusion at Liberty National.
Leaderboard: Final Top-10
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Patrick Reed -16 (-2)
2. Abraham Ancer -15 (-2)
3. Harold Varner III -14 (-3)
3. Jon Rahm -14 (-2)
5. Adam Scott -13 (-6)
6. Jordan Spieth -12 (-4)
6. Rory McIlroy -12 (-2)
6. Louis Oosthuizen -12 (-2
6. Brandt Snedeker -12 (E)
10. Ian Poulter -11 (-3)
10. Justin Rose -11 (E)
12. Patrick Cantlay -10
12. Justin Thomas -10
18. Webb Simpson -9
24. Bryson DeChambeau -7
24. Danny Willett -7
24. Dustin Johnson -7
30. Brooks Koepka -6
30. Tony Finau -6
43. Tommy Fleetwood -4
53. Gary Woodland -3
53. Shane Lowry -3
53. Jim Furyk -3
71. Phil Mickelson +1
71. Matthew Wolff +1
How Patrick Reed Won The Northern Trust
Reed had positive history with both the tournament, and the course, having won the 2016 Northern Trust – although at a different New York-area venue, and he’d played exceptional at the 2017 Presidents Cup, which was held at Liberty National. That confidence may have been a key in his tremendous 66-66-67 start to the week.
The three early Sunday bogeys were a surprise, given that Reed had carded just one bogey over the entirety of the opening three rounds. It was a largely hot putter that kept him steady as he rebounded, and he continued his bogey-free ways over the final 12 holes.
For the week, Reed’s four bogeys were the fewest in the field, cancelling out just four of his 20 birdies. He finished second in the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee, while finishing fourth in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Reed’s Winning Stats
Driving: 301 yards (10th)
Fairways: 44/56, 78.57% (11th)
Greens: 51/72, 70.83% (8th)
Putts/GIR: 86/1.686 (29th)
SG: Tee to Green: 10.198 (4th)
SG: Total: 13.365 (1st)
Scores: 20 Birdies, 48 Pars, 4 Bogeys
What It Means For Reed
Reed opened the 2019 season with a T7 at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where he collapsed with a 77 on Sunday. After that, he failed to card a top-10 in his next 16 starts, finally reaching the near-top of the leaderboard again when he finished T5 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in late June, the first of four consecutive finishes of 23rd or better coming into the week.
Reed stated after his round that he felt he had been playing well, but the results had not been there, now a result is there: a win. It ends the longest drought of Reed’s career, and moves to him to No. 15 (from 24th) in the world, while almost guaranteeing a spot for “Captain American” on Tiger Woods’ 2018 Presidents Cup team.
The win also assures that Reed will have one of the 30 spots at the Tour Championship for the sixth straight year, giving him a shot at the $15 million prize, the largest in FedExCup history.
Reed’s 2019 PGA Tour Season
Cuts Made: 20
Wins: 1 (The Northern Trust)
Addtl Top 10s: 3
Earnings: $3,481,734 (19th)
FedEx Pts: 2,774 (2nd)
World Rank Before/After: 24/15
* Not including Zurich Classic team event
Adam Scott had seen a strong season, particularly in the majors, come to a halt when he failed to make the cut at the Open Championship, which he followed up the following week with a T40 at the 63-man no-cut WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
However, with a phenomenal 6-under 65 on Sunday, which tied the low score in the round 4 field, Scott snagged a solo fifth-place finish, which got him to 14th in the FedExCup standings and removed any doubt that he would be at East Lake this year.
The man who matched Scott’s 65 was Kevin Tway, who vaulted 39 spots up the final leaderboard to finish T24. Tway won the season-opening Safeway Open back in October, but has struggled badly since, and especially late, with three missed cuts and a 63rd place finish (in a 63-man field) in his past four starts.
The tremendous final round should give Tway some momentum as he needs a great outing next week to move into the top 30 from his current FedExCup position of 40th.
Jordan Spieth again sabotaged his chances of a first victory in two years when he struggled his way to a 3-over 74 on Saturday, but the three-time major champion bounced back on Sunday with seven birdies in a 4-under 67 effort. Spieth finished T6, and gave himself some breathing room in the FedExCup Standings, moving from 69th to 44th, one of the biggest jumps of the week.
Another among those four most recent Masters winners still looking for their first Tour victory since was Danny Willett, the Brit who won the green jacket in 2016. Willett has battled injuries the past several years, but had been playing much better as of late, even notching a sixth place finish at the recent Open Championship.
At just 110th in the FedExCup standings coming into the week, he needed a tremendous result at The Northern Trust to continue his playoff run, and was in position through 54-holes, at just two strokes out of the lead. However, Willett could not ump get anything going on Sunday, carding just one birdie in a 4-over 75 that dropped him from 5th to T24. His FedExCup standing improved, but at 85th, it was not enough to get him into next week’s field.
Dustin Johnson appeared to have bounced back from a surprising recent slump by holding the 36-hole lead, but struggled on Saturday, and saw his fall continue on Sunday. The World No. 2 bogeyed his first three holes on his way to a 2-over 73 and a T24 finish.
The worst round of the final day came from Kevin Na, who won the Charles Schwab Challenge three months ago. Na continued his struggles since with a 9-over 80 that plummeted him 43 spots down the final leaderboard into a T77. At 55th in the FedExCup Standings, Na will still be in the field for next week’s BMW Championship.
In past years, there have been four FedExCup events, with the bottom 25 of the original 125 getting eliminated in the first week. In the new format, there are now just three events, meaning 55 players who make the playoffs over the 40-week season will fail to advance past the first round.
In the guinea pig edition, a surprisingly-few four players moved from outside the top 70 to into it in the first week, locking up spots at the BMW Championship. The biggest mover among those four was Harold Varner III, who with a T3 finish moved from 102nd to 29th in the standings.
In addition, Troy Merritt used an opening-round 62 to finish T12 and move from 72nd to 59th, Wyndham Clark jumped from 90th to 68th after a T18 at Liberty National, and 20-year-old Joaquin Niemann did just well enough with a T30 to move from 74th to 70th.
“No matter who you are as a player, whatever sport you play, you hear the negative and you hear the positive. The thing is, how do you use the negative? Do you use it as something that’s going to keep you down, or do you use it as motivation to go out and prove them wrong? If people are yelling something negative and you make birdie or hit a good golf shot, all of a sudden, they don’t have anything really to say.”
– Patrick Reed, The Northern Trust Champion
Credits: Getty Images, PGA TOUR Media, ASAP Sports, OWGR