Patrick Reed Wins 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Playoff

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Kapalua resident and NBC/Golf Channel on-course reporter, Mark Rolfing, predicted that the winning score at the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions would be 22-under, and while the total in regulation play was actually 21-under, it was Patrick Reed’s birdie putt on the first playoff hole, No. 18. That makes it 22 overall. Well done, Mark…. (He ought to know: he built the Plantation course and started the resort’s PGA Tour 32-year championship legacy 33 years ago.)

How Reed got himself into position to make that putt on 18 was the story of the day, as the cocky champion of 2015’s first event was four shots behind with four to play, before made a birdie on 15, holed an 80-yard shot for eagle on 16, bogeyed 17, and then birdie 18 to find himself in the clubhouse tied with a wobbly Jimmy Walker for the lead.

“I thought my chances were slim,” Patrick Reed said in the press room after the event was over. “So I was just thinking to myself, ‘Let’s try to birdie three of the last four and get ourselves a chance to secure second alone, and give ourselves a chance… just maybe’.”

After Reed two-putted for birdie, from 80 feet on the par-5 18th for a 6-under 67, it was Walker’s title to win or lose. The reigning and eventual successful SONY Open in Hawaii defending champion appeared to have everything on cruise control until he found himself in the fairway bunker on the drivable par 4 14th, after hitting an iron to play it safe.

He would miss the green left from there and then pitch it to about 10-feet only to miss his par-saving putt. That was his first bogey in 33 holes at Kapalua.

Coming home: Walker missed two birdie putts inside of 10 feet, and left himself an unlikely 18-footer for birdie to win in regulation… a feat he predictably failed to accomplish—closing with a 69 to join Reed at 21-under 271—and opening the door for a Reed-Walker playoff.

Somehow, it just didn’t seem like it was going to be Walker’s day. He wasn’t draining many putts, his chipping was leaving him longer recovery putts, and there seemed to be little fire there. In the playoff, which was as lackluster as Walker’s final five holes, Walker’s chip was sloppily played and went bounding over the green everyone expects to make birdie on. But, instead of having a shot at winning, Walker was scrambling to get to within 6-feet to save par… this time: a feat he would not need to accomplish.

Reed’s chip left him a downhill putt that just needed to get started on line, and that’s what he did, and the end-result was Reed’s victory.

“It was there for me to win,” Walker said later in the media room, looking rather dejected. “It was a bummer I didn’t close the door on it.”

The 24-year-old Reed is the fifth player in the last 25 years to win at least four times on the PGA TOUR before turning 25. The others were Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Before Reed’s sudden-death birdie putt found the bottom of the cup on 18, Jason Day became the second player that Monday to tie the Plantation Course record with a 62. Chris Kirk had just shot a 62 earlier in the day as the first player out. Day finished with an event total of 20-under 272. Russell Henley closed with five straight birdies carding a 67 to join Day at 272.

The two were joined by Hideki Matsuyama, who was tied with Walker at the start of the final round. The 22-year-old from Japan missed makable birdie opportunities on the last four holes and limped in with a 70.

Walker’s lackluster finish was more about him losing than Reed winning: “I can’t do anything about him. I can’t control that,” Walker said. “I can control what I was doing, and I wasn’t doing my job.”

Other notes:

Reed’s win makes him the fourth player in the past 20 years to earn four PGA TOUR wins before the age of 25. The other three? Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Phil Mickelson accomplished the same feat 21 years ago.

This was Reed’s first come-from-behind win on the PGA Tour. In his other three (2013 Wyndham Championship, 2014 Humana Challenge and 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship), he was the 54-hole leader or co-leader. He is also undefeated (2-0) in PGA Tour playoffs. He defeated Jordan Spieth in extra holes to win the Wyndham.

Only four players have won both the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions since both events have been played in Hawaii: Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els. Walker would fail at Kapalua, but successfully defend his title at the Sony Open the same week.

Jason Day and Chris Kirk both tied the course record, on the par-73 Kapalua Plantation course, with final round 62s. Each was bogey-free with 11 birdies in their respective rounds, with Day finishing one shot out of a playoff. Kirk, who started the day in dead last played alone due to the odd number of players in the field and finished his round in 2 hours and 48 minutes.

Hole No. 1 (which played into the wind the final two days) was the most difficult hole of the week (+0.157), with only one player, Brian Harman making birdie there during the final round. The par-5 fifth was statistically the easiest hole of the week (-0.687), giving up nearly three times more birdies than pars.

John Byrne
John Byrne

Founded the Maui Golf Review in 1995.

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