LAQUINTA, Calif. — At last, the wait was over.
After a nerve-wracking 18 holes Sunday, Patrick Reed walked away from the Humana Challenge as the victor. He shot a 1-under par 71 and finished at 28-under par for the week, two strokes better than Ryan Palmer.
It wasn’t easy. Of course nothing about this fickle game is, but Reed found a way to deliver down the stretch and join Harris English as the only other active American golfer under 25 with multiple wins on the PGA Tour.
After an extraordinary display of three straight 63s through the first three days, the 23-year-old Reed looked a tad more human on a calm and hazy Sunday in California’s Coachella Valley.
Reed started solid enough, going 1 under through his first four holes. But he made four bogeys in an eight-hole stretch from Nos. 5-12 that kept many players, including proven Tour winners Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, and Justin Leonard, in the hunt.
“When I started hitting the ball in play and not getting in fairway bunkers it wasn’t actually that difficult,” Reed said. “I started towards the end playing for par just because I knew pars weren’t going to hurt me. Especially I think, with a four-, five-shot lead going into the back nine.”
Closing the tournament proved challenging even with such a seven-stroke lead going into the final round.
“It’s a lot harder than most people think to close,” Patrick’s wife and former caddie Justine Reed said, “even with a seven stroke lead. It’s never easy.”
But Reed isn’t your typical player. He’s displayed an underdog mentality even in his playing days at University High and Augusta State, which has led to success on the world’s toughest professional golf tour.
“He hasn’t really been given a lot in the golf world. He’s had to do it on his own,” Justine Reed said. “So you have to take those chances when you get them.”
Justine, expecting the couple’s first child in May, walked the fairways Sunday as an intense spectator. Her brother, Kessler Karain, is serving as Patrick’s caddie.
“I just had to keep telling him that he was the man,” Karain said. “This is yours for the taking and no one else can take it from you. Play the game hole-by-hole. So I was trying to keep his mind on the future and not worrying about the last putt.”
Reed seemed physically frustrated at times Sunday until a birdie at the par-3 15th. He pumped his fist after draining the 18-foot putt, reminiscent of his gesture after draining his winning putt in a playoff for his first Tour win at last year’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
“I didn’t have to play a playoff and hit it through a jungle,” Reed said of Sunday’s win. His reference was to his clutch 7-iron from the trees at Wyndham that set up his winning birdie putt in that playoff over Jordan Spieth.
Karain knew that keeping his brother-in-law positive was key to delivering the win.
“I was trying to keep him positive because he was getting frustrated,” Karain said. “But I think we did a good job of bouncing back.”
Team Reed heads to famed Torrey Pines in San Diego this week for the Farmers Insurance Open.
Karain is celebrating his 25th birthday Tuesday. A win in the desert at the old Bob Hope tournament was a great gift.