DORAL, Fla. — The guy in the red shirt won again.
Patrick Reed, that is — not his hero, Tiger Woods, the top-ranked player in the world who never challenged Reed on Sunday.
Reed, the former University High standout, hung on to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship by a shot over Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson for his third career PGA Tour victory in his past 14 starts, all the wins coming while wearing a final-round red shirt.
That’s the same color shirt that Woods, a 79-time winner on the PGA Tour, has worn in final rounds his entire career, which includes 14 major championship victories.
The 23-year-old Reed, who led U-High to a pair of state golf titles and was the Louisiana High School Player of the Year in 2007, was solid and steady in Sunday’s final round at Trump National Doral’s Blue Monster course. He struck for three birdies against three bogeys for an even-par 72.
Watson had 68, and Donaldson shot 70.
Woods, three shots back heading into the final round and playing in the group directly in front of Reed, struggled to 78 and tied for 25th.
Reed said he always wears a red shirt and black pants in final rounds because that’s what Woods does.
“Well, the best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants and a red shirt,” Reed said. “I was growing up watching him. I always thought, ‘You know, it would be cool to wear black and red (on) Sunday.’ I did it when I was in juniors, I did it in amateur golf and, you know, it’s worked.
“Obviously there’s something behind it.”
Of his three career victories — Reed also won the Wyndham Championship in August and the Humana Challenge in January — this was the only one with Woods was in the field.
Woods appeared in position to challenge Reed on Sunday after a third-round 66 left him three shots off the lead. But Woods, who afterward said he was battling the same back pain that forced him to withdraw during the final round of last week’s Honda Classic after eight holes, was 3 over after six holes on Sunday and did not make a birdie.
Reed said the win means more with Woods in the field.
“It’s Tiger Woods,” he said. “He’s the best golfer probably ever to live, and it’s one of those things that, whenever he’s in the field, you always are looking where his name is.”
Reed entered the final round with a two-shot lead. By the turn, he had extended it to four shots, then fell back on the final nine.
He settled for bogey on the dangerous 18th hole for 2-over 38 on the back and became the youngest World Golf Championships winner. The previous youngest? That would be Woods.
With rounds of 68-75-69-72, Reed was a wire-to-wire winner. He finished at 4-under 284 for four trips over the Gil Hanse-redesigned course that saw the field — which featured 49 of the world’s top 50 players — dunk 318 balls in the water, including 113 in Friday’s second round when the winds reached 36 mph.
In his second full year on the PGA Tour, Reed has earned $3,492,000 for the trio of wins, all since August. He and Jimmy Walker, who has three victories this season, are the only players with more than one win this year.
Reed has moved up to third on the PGA Tour money list, to third in the FedEx Cup standings and to 20th in the world ranking. He was ranked 369th the week of this tournament last year and entered this week’s event 44th.
After Sunday’s victory, Reed said he believes he’s among the top five players in the world because of all he has done in the past seven months.
The timing of the latest victory is perfect for Reed, who will be making his Masters debut April 7 at Augusta National Golf Club. The course is 10 minutes from Augusta State, where he went to college for his sophomore and junior years, leading the Jaguars to national titles before turning pro.
“That’s going to be a treat, walking down that first fairway at Augusta,” said Reed, who believes he can be in the mix to be the third player to win a green jacket in his first start.
Walker also will be making his debut in the Masters, which means he and Reed will be the first players since Denis Watson in 1984 to make their Masters debut after winning three times since the previous year’s tournament.
It did get interesting at the end Sunday. After three early birdies followed by nine consecutive pars, Reed made his second bogey of the day, on No. 14, missing a 4-footer.
That cut his lead to two shots over Watson, who had just finished his round. A few minutes later, Donaldson birdied No. 17 to pull within one shot.
Reed saved par from the bunker on No. 15 to remain a shot ahead, then two-putted from 54 feet on No. 17 to save another par. Donaldson bunkered his approach on No. 18 and missed a 12-footer for par, meaning Reed had a two-shot going to No. 18 — and he knew it.
On the 18th hole, he played the par-4 like a par-5, hitting an iron off the tee, getting to the green in three shots and two-putting for bogey and the one-shot victory.
“I just hit 3-iron to the right because I know that’s not going to get into the trees,” he said. “So I was playing for that right rough and laid up with 7-iron, had 80 yards, hit a little wedge to the middle of the green and easy two-putt.”