Reed Rights the Ship With Victory in New Jersey
Patrick Reed won an eventful Northern Trust Open in New Jersey to move to second place in the FedEx Cup standings with just two events left. The tournament started with a field of 125, of whom the top 70 now move forward to the BMW Championship before that is cut to 30 for the season-ending Tour Championship, at the end of which somebody will walk away with a $15m bonus.
And one of those who is facing a struggle to make it to East Lake is Tiger Woods, who withdrew after a disappointing first round of 75, citing a hip injury. He says that he hopes to be fit for the BMW, where he will probably need a top-15 finish if he is to make it to East Lake to defend his title.
It was a big week for Reed, who has struggled since winning The Masters last year. The overnight leader held off the challenge of Mexico's Abraham Ancer to win by one shot in New Jersey, exactly as he had begun the day.
Both men scored two-under-par 69s, with Reed finishing the tournament on 16 under par. Harold Varner III and Spain's Jon Rahm came joint third on 14 under. Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut at The Open last month, finished four shots behind Reed.
Australia's Adam Scott had the best round of the day, a 65, to finish three shots back on 13 under. England's Ian Poulter and Justin Rose ended on 11 under but Danny Willett, who began the day three shots behind Reed, shot a four-over-par 74 to slip out of contention.
Reed's overnight lead at Liberty National in Jersey City disappeared with back-to-back bogeys at the second and third holes and Rahm moved to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies in four holes on the front nine. Birdies at the 12th and 13th moved Rahm to 16-under, but he faded with bogeys at the 14th and 15th. Reed, even for the day after three birdies and three bogeys on the front nine, rolled in an eight-footer at the 14th before holing a crucial 10-foot putt to save his par at the 15th, where he missed the green. He then struck a glorious approach to four feet at the 16th, and holed the birdie putt to put him back in front, where he remained. He holed a three-foot putt on the 18th green to secure the victory, leaving Ancer still in search of his first win on the PGA Tour.
Reed was relieved. He said. "It's been a while. It’s been a little too long, honestly.” He struggled after winning The Masters. “I almost felt like I pressed harder and worked harder and tried harder and therefore, it made me physically and mentally drained,” he said. “I kind of went the wrong direction.”
After a miserable run of form earlier in the year he decided to take a proper break in May. "I didn’t want to see the golf clubs,” he said. “I came back and I’m hitting the ball farther. I have a clear picture on what I’m trying to do and all of a sudden, I come out and I start hitting the ball where it’s supposed to go. I’m starting to think clearly while I’m out there and the game starts turning around.”
His fifth-place finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in June was his first top-10 on the PGA Tour since October last year and he followed in with a 10th-place at The Open. He’s now converted five of his seven 54-hole leads into victories.
As for Ancer, he began the week just hoping to secure a place in the field for the BMW, but his second-place finish means he is now assured of being at East Lake - he went from 67th in the standings to eighth and also secures him a spot at The Masters, US Open and Open in 2020. He also secured his place in the International Team for the Presidents Cup. “Making it into the Tour Championship is huge. I obviously wanted to finish first but it's really pleasing to know that with the work that I put in today and this week, and all year, really paid off in a way, still without getting the win,” Ancer said. “When I got here, I knew where I stood. I knew I had to play a solid tournament just to advance, so it was no option. But I didn't want to just to focus on that. I wanted to get obviously the highest finish I could get to make it to the Tour Championship, which it was definitely one of my goals starting this year.”
Jordan Spieth kept his season going thanks to a final round of 67, which saw him finish the week on 12 under par, tied for sixth place. It was good enough to take him from 69th to 44th in the FedExCup standings and keeps alive his hopes of making it back to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
The subject of slow play raised its head once again, with Bryson DeChambeau, who was the defending champion, being singled out for criticism once again after taking more than two minutes to hit a straightforward 70-yard chip and the same length of time to line up an eight-foot putt, which he missed.
England's Eddie Pepperell, who was not playing in the tournament, said: "Slow players do this to their partners, making the game less enjoyable. Problem is, the unaffected single-minded twit in this instance doesn't care much for others."
DeChambeau defended himself, saying: "When people start talking to me about slow play and how I'm killing the game, I'm doing this and that to the game, that is complete and utter you-know-what. We are all trying to do our best to play well and make our livelihoods and win tournaments. When you start personally attacking people on Twitter, it's like, come on, dude. Speak to me to my face about that."
Poulter said: "There are a few players that continually disrespect their fellow pros and continue to break the rules without a conscience. It should be self-policed but clearly this won't happen... so disappointing it hasn't been stopped."
Rich Beem, who was working for Sky Sports at the tournament, said: "This has got to stop. PGA Tour, if you don't do something about this, shame on you. As a member, I'm outraged you can tolerate this. You talk about 'protecting the field', then protect it by penalising/disqualifying this type of behaviour. Enough."
Pepperell insists that the answer is to hand out one- or two-shot penalties. For the record, players have 40 seconds to play a shot. This is routinely ignored and there are now growing calls within the game for the matter to be addressed. As Pepperell said, handing out fines is meaningless to tour players who earn millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorship deals.
LADIES SCOTTISH OPEN
Mi Jung Hur shot a superb final round of 66 to wrap up a four-shot victory in the Ladies Scottish Open at a wet Renaissance Club. The South Korean recorded six birdies in her final 10 holes, including four in a row from the ninth, to finish 20 under and end her five-year wait for a title. Third-round leader Moriya Jutanugarn carded 71 to tie for second with Jeongeun Lee6. Two late bogeys saw Scotland's Carly Booth finish joint ninth on 10 under.
English golfers Laura Davies, Georgia Hall, Bronte Law and Charley Hull were five strokes further back.
Dutch golfer Anne van Dam secured the final automatic spot in Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup team to play the United States at Gleneagles in September. She joins England's Hull and Hall, Spain's Azahara Munoz, Caroline Masson of Germany, Swedish pair Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall and Spain's Carlota Ciganda. Matthew has four wild-card picks.
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