First Tournament of 2015: Familiar Names, Low Scores at the Hyundai

Patrick Reed at the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, image:

Patrick Reed at the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, image:

The PGA Tour’s 2015 season started off with a bang during last weekend’s inaugural event. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions, held at the Kapulua Plantation Golf Course on Hawaii’s second-largest island of Maui, was home to some of the best golfers from around the world for four days of high-tension competition.

The beautiful Hawaiian course was also the setting for a myriad of low scores across the board, with players like Bubba Watson posting a personal best for Kapulua, shooting a 5-under to close out Sunday’s third round with a 68.

The two leaders moving into Day Four for Monday’s final round were Hideki Matsuyama and Jimmy Walker, both tied at 17-under prior to Monday’s final event. But it would be a young Tour pro by the name of Patrick Reed, the 24-year-old King of Confidence that silenced the hostile crowds during the 2014 Ryder Cup with a simple stroke of his putter and a “shush” directed toward the stands, that would take home the win after an astounding final round of play.

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

An event called the Tournament of Champions had better pay, and last weekend’s matches certainly lived up to the title: four rounds of golf, held through four days at the beginning of the 2015 PGA Tour season boasting a whopping $5.7 million purse, with over $1.1 million going to the winner.

Some of golf’s brightest up-and-comers from the US made it to the central Pacific’s most-watched tournament of the New Year, with names like Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk and Russell Henley representing the twenty-something pros from the homeland. Australians Jason Day and Steven Bowditch – among several other seasoned Aussies – made the roughly half-day flight from Down Under to attend the PGA Tour season opener.  Russell Henley, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama ended up sharing a three-way tie for third place in the event.

But the biggest news coming from Kapulua last weekend was Patrick Reed’s incredible performance during Monday’s final round, swiping the win right out of Jimmy Walker’s hands in a sudden-death playoff.

Reed’s Run Toward the Finish

Jimmy Walker had every reason to feel good about moving into Monday’s final round at 17-under, but as we’ve learned time and again, the tides of golf supremacy can change with a single stroke.

For Patrick Reed, that tide started changing in his favor on the 16th hole. Prior to his performance, Reed was already in contention with Walker for the win, having birdied four of the last twelve holes to place him at 19-under for the tournament. Then came Reed’s incredible wedge shot from the fairway of the 16th, sinking the golf ball 83 yards from the pin and posting an eagle for the hole.

That amazing shot put Reed on the fast track for the win, while placing much-needed pressure on Walker.  While Reed closed out the 18th hole with a two-putt birdie, Walker sent one of his shots sailing into the stands, shocking both fans and commentators alike.

Walker’s struggles on the final hole – along with Reed’s success – sent both parties into a playoff round, which gave Walker another crack at the par-5 18th.  History repeated itself as Walker posted par for the hole a second time while Reed sank a crowd-pleasing 18-foot birdie putt for the win.

So what’s the secret to Reed’s game? “I go out there and just kind of focus on my golf game, and I don’t really care what anyone else is doing or however anyone else hits the shot. I just know how I can do it.”

With an exciting win marking the first tournament of the PGA Tour season, Patrick Reed’s approach to the game has certainly served him well.

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