Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Through the first three rounds of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the big story was the completely re-done Blue Monster Course at Doral. The final round story line shifted to the eventual winner, Patrick Reed.
The course played to the extreme in windy conditions on Friday. It was after Reed claimed his third win since August that he became the story line with his bold comments.
"I feel like I'm a top-five player in the world," Reed said in a greenside interview.
Strong words for a 23-year-old who hasn't played in a single major championship and was playing in just his second World Golf Championship event.
Before those strong words, the renovated golf course at Doral was on the receiving end of more than few strong words from players and announcers alike.
Architect Gil Hanse was brought into Doral immediately after the 2013 event ended by new course owner Donald Trump. Hanse, who won the bid to build the Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro, redesigned Doral with some added tweaks from Trump himself.
The winning score the previous six years averaged 17.5 under par. The Blue Monster wasn't much of a monster anymore, but Hanse and Trump changed that.
After Friday's windy round, the architect reportedly had his head in his hands, while the owner was crowing about the difficulty of the course.
Hanse was disappointed to see a record 113 golf balls found the water on a blustery Friday of golf. Trump, meanwhile, nodded his head in enjoyment as if to say, "Yeah, I'll show these guys a hard course."
Trump has become a golf mogul in recent years. He now owns 16 golf courses that span from Los Angeles to New York to Scotland and to Dubai. It is no secret he wants to host a major championship at one of those courses.
Doral played like a major with just three players ending the tournament in red figures. Friday's conditions were so difficult that players were hitting irons to par-3 greens only to see their golf balls bounce, then roll 30 to 40 feet across the green, down a slope and into the water.
Perfect shots were being repelled like they were landing on blacktop. This led to several players saying they can't wait to come back again next year after tweaks make the course more playable.
After seeing the whole tournament, I agree with the players. Watching good to very good shots bounce wildly off greens and into water seemed unfair.
Small tweaks, like raising the edges of some greens, will take care of some issues, but other issues will be taken care of as the course grows in and ages. The rough was thick, but not long, and in some places didn't stop balls from rolling into water.
As the course changes with time, there are plenty of critics hoping Reed does the same.
In his greenside interview after winning, Reed rolled off his golf resume to the world. People who didn't know anything about him now know what he's done in his time in golf.
He rattled off his accomplishments and ended by saying, "I don't see a lot of guys out here that have done (what I have), besides Tiger Woods, of course."
Now, everyone this side of Tiger could have a beef with Reed. Among the things Reed said afterward was that he went 6-0 at the NCAAs and won the (team) title twice, won a lot in his amateur career and now has three wins on the PGA Tour.
I like guys puffing their chests about their accomplishments as much as the next guy, but Reed needs to learn a little about the guys he's playing with. The field at the WGC-Cadillac Championship included five U.S. Amateur champions and four U.S. Junior Amateur champions.
None of those nine champions was named Patrick Reed.
Peter Uihlein, 24, won the 2010 Amateur and has just one European Tour win under his belt, while 31-year-old Ryan Moore has three PGA Tour wins to his credit. Along with his 2004 U.S. Amateur crown, Moore was the 2003 and 2004 U.S. Amateur Public Links winner and the 2004 NCAA Champion.
The other three U.S. Amateur champions in the field were Matt Kuchar (six PGA Tour wins), Phil Mickelson (five-time major champion) and Woods, whose records are enough for several columns by themselves.
Woods, Hunter Mahan and Jordan Spieth were the Junior Amateur winners in the field. Mahan has five PGA Tour titles, including two World Golf Championship crowns, and has played on six of the last seven Presidents or Ryder Cup teams. Spieth has just one PGA Tour win, along with his two U.S. Junior Amateur titles, but he is also still 20 years old, so he could be more decorated than Reed by the time he reaches 23.
Reed's boisterous comments may have ruffled a few feathers, but that's fine. He young and brash, and, by the way, has some serious game. He'll learn there are plenty of guys on tour with some serious credentials.
HADLEY STRIKES GOLD IN HIT OR MISS YEAR
PGA Tour rookie Chesson Hadley has struggled to make a name for himself in his first season on tour. He has missed the cut in six of his 11 starts, and failed to play the final round in another event.
The other four events have been pretty special. He shared fifth at the Shriners last fall in the early portion of the new wrap-around schedule. And now has three top-25 finishes in his last four starts.
After missing five consecutive cuts, Hadley posted two 70s and two 71s at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and that was good enough for him to tie for 10th place.
He missed the cut at Riviera, and there is no shame in that, then closed with three straight rounds in the 60s to share 24th at the Honda Classic.
That set him up for his trip to Puerto Rico. At Trump International - there's that golf mogul again - Hadley had four rounds of 68 or better en route to earning his first PGA Tour title.
He won twice on the Web.com Tour last year and now has his first PGA Tour title, which gives him a two-year exemption on tour.
The wiry 26-year-old could stand to put a few pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame. He's listed at 160 pounds, and if he's 160, so am I (editor's note: I haven't seen 160 since freshman year in college).
Hadley was showing plenty of fire during his win, too. After each of his six birdies, Hadley did some interesting finger flick as if he was "air-counting" his birdies.
Not sure if the finger-flick was as ostentatious as Patrick Reed calling himself a top-five player, but if was far from over-the-top like some of Tiger Woods' legendary fist pumps have been.
Let's let Reed and Hadley have their fun. It's better than most droll, monotonous tour players who hardly crack a smile after winning tournaments.
- It's always fun when Woods adds words to our lexicon. On Sunday, he referenced "flexion" several times in his interview when discussing the problem in his back. "The more flexion there was, the more it hurt," Woods said. When you can't bend over to pick your ball out of the hole, you know you're back is in a world of hurt. Woods has a month to get his back in shape for the Masters.
- For the week at Doral, there were 318 golf balls in the water. That is 98 more than the previous tournament record. The 113 water balls in round 2 were 25 more than the single round record of 88, which was done in 2004.