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Chipping In: Cocky or Confident Reed ?

By: Nick Bonfield | Mon 10 Mar 2014

Nick Bonfield shares his thoughts from this weekend's action.

Reed – cocky or confident?

The main topic of conversation following Patrick Reed’s victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship centered on his post-tournament comments, and whether they should be construed as a mark of confidence of arrogance. For those who aren’t in the know, he claimed he thought he was a top-five player in the world, and that his performance at Doral proved it. Leaving aside, for now, the validity of such a statement, it would seem he’s treading a fine line between arrogance and self-assurance. His comments, however, become more understandable with context.

During his school and college days, he won pretty much every major honour; he’s risen more than 470 places in the world rankings in the last two years; he’s won three times on the PGA Tour before the age of 24; he triumphed at Doral on his first WGC strokeplay appearance – an event with all the world’s top 50 in the field - and became the franchise’s youngest ever winner in the process. With such context, how can anyone claim he boasts an exaggerated sense of his own abilities? Yes, Reed would do well to be a little more couth – and he’s miles away from proving he’s one of the top five players on the planet – but I certainly don’t blame him for his confident rhetoric, nor do I perceive it as arrogant.


Woods – the good, the bad and the ugly

I have to say I’m concerned about Tiger Woods, and I think he needs to take a break from the game. I admire his determination to finish the tournament, but he’s not doing himself, the sponsors or the game any favours by playing when he clearly isn’t fit. The game of golf needs a healthy Woods, as he continues to command more attention than any other player in the world. His sublime third-round 66 was evidence – if any was needed - he’s still the best player in the world when everything clicks into place. For that to happen on a more consistent basis, he needs to be fully fit; something which, in turn, will have a positive effect on his mentality and demeanor. The golfing world needs a healthy Woods to arrive at Augusta, not a disconsolate-looking figure who continues to be hampered by persistent injury caused by unnecessary strain.

New-look Doral – first impressions

There can be no doubt that Donald Trump’s Doral was a far more thorough examination and a much more rigorous test for the world’s best players. Most of the changes enhanced the quality of the golf course and the resort-type feel was largely removed. One criticism, though, is that the fairway bunkers were far too benign, especially given the lack of rough. A succession of players on the final day – including Reed – showed that finding fairway traps wasn’t really an obstacle, and the course lost a pivotal natural defence when the wind disappeared on Saturday. That said, the improvements have given the Blue Monster a much-needed upgrade, and whilst I’m not convinced it’s the best venue for a WGC, it’s a marked improvement on last year.

Ryder Cup - rookies lining up

With victory in Florida, Reed all-but secured his place on the US Ryder Cup team. The race to the finish line is going to be absolutely fascinating, and that intrigue stems mainly from the fact that a number of established names are inevitably going to miss out. Take the American side, for example. Reed and Walker look certain to make the team, Harris English is in a strong position and Jordan Spieth and Chris Kirk are lurking just outside the top nine. As it stands, the likes of Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods have some serious work to do if they want to qualify on merit.

The game of golf is in a very health place right now, with youngsters believing they can make an immediate impression at the top level – a product of intense competition from childhood through college, a hugely competitive Web.com Tour and inspiration provided by peer success - and technology narrowing the gap between the best and the worst on tour. Sadly, the demise of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s continuing struggles remain the main focus of media institutions around the world, who often neglect to convey the current strength of professional golf to the generic sports fan.

Maiden victory for Hadley

While golf’s top 50 were battling with a revamped Blue Monster, a number of the PGA Tour’s lesser lights headed to central America to compete in the Puerto Rico Open. As if to vindicate my above point, Chesson Hadley – a player who boasts a successful college record and secured a victory on the Web.com Tour in 2013 en route to earning a PGA Tour card – shot a final-round 67 to record a two-stroke victory over Danny Lee. It’s great so see so many young players faring so well, but, as strong as the game is at the moment, it seems to be suffering from a lack of true characters. Whether that’s a product of exposure to media from a young age, media training from PR managers and agents, the ruthless, sometimes character-sapping dedication required from childhood to make it big in this day and age or something else, the number of charismatic golfers is decreasing. If only Miguel Angel Jimenez was 30 years younger!

Next week the PGA Tour heads to Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship, and Marcel Siem defends his European Tour Trophee Hassan title in Morocco.

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