In My Opinion

Greg Cote: Patrick Reed has the right look — and game to match it

 

gcote@MiamiHerald.com

The man in the blood-red shirt striding confidently up the 18th fairway won Sunday’s golf tournament just like you thought he would.

No, not that guy in the blood-red shirt.

The other one.

Tiger Woods all but invented the red-shirt, black-slacks Sunday attire on the PGA Tour, his tremendous success in that look giving him a de facto trademark to it.

Turns out 23-year-old Patrick Reed quietly co-opted the look a while ago. It’s just that nobody really noticed until Sunday, when he was winning the World Golf Championships event on Doral’s revamped and toughened Blue Monster course, by far the biggest of his three career wins.

The kid didn’t even pretend his fashion sense was a coincidence. It’s a plain homage to Tiger.

“The best player to ever live when I was growing up was wearing black pants and a red shirt on Sundays,” Reed explained. “Obviously, there’s something behind it.”

If so, there only was that mojo for the imitator on Sunday, not for the originator.

Woods traipsed to the 18th green in the next-to-last group, but by then he’d faded well out of contention with a miserable final round score of 78, bothered once more by the back spasms that caused his withdrawal a week earlier — and that now loom large over his status approaching next month’s Masters.

Tiger had zero birdies Sunday, only the eighth round of his long and illustrious career without a single hole under par.

“It’s over. It’s finally done, which is good,” Woods described his thoughts walking off that final green.

One group later the “other” man in the blood-red shirt strode the same fairway, headed to a one-shot and yet seldom-in-doubt victory. While Tiger cuts a tall, lean, broad-shouldered silhouette in those clothes, Reed is more like the guy next door. The frumpy one who doesn’t work out and has a bit of a beer gut.

Doral’s newest champion has a likable, everyman quality.

“I’d rather lay in bed and watch TV than get in the gym,” Reed admitted. “I’m not a workout junkie. Don’t really watch what I eat. Just kind of live life.”

He was livin’ it large Sunday, collecting a check for $1,530,000 as his pregnant wife Justine looked on, beaming. (A sponsor name on Reed’s golf shirt says “TaxSlayer.” “TaxPayer” would now be more fitting.)

Whatever Reed may lack in chiseled physique, he does not lack in confidence in himself. After banking his third career win but first of real note, Reed was all but anointing himself a golfing meteor — someone to watch.

“I’m working my way up to being a top-five player in the world,” he said rather audaciously — a quote that will ricochet among his fellow Tour players. “I believe that.”

It would be tough to argue Reed wasn’t the biggest winner at Doral this week after his signature victory, but I might, and make the case that The Donald was.

This is difficult to say. It almost pains me. After all, Donald Trump needs a compliment like a 400-pound man needs an all-day pass to a Chinese buffet. Trump leads the league in ego. He wrote the book on smug. His name is all over the Doral resort he now owns, right down to the helicopter parked in the midst of the course where no fan can miss it.

He lorded over this WGC event all week with that perpetual frown on his face (Donald Grump) and a white ballcap fixed atop his astounding hair. Trump has the regal bearing and air of a man who considers himself to be American royalty.

Everything is excess with him, everything is effusiveness.

“Fantastic turnout, fantastic galleries, fantastic winner,” Trump described the first WGC/Doral with his stamp.

Shake your head at The Donald if you wish, but give him credit where it is due.

Trump has brought the venerable Doral resort back to life, and he has made a new masterpiece of its sagging signature course.

Trump spent $200 million — with no pursuit of tax dollars or state subsidy — to move earth and make heaven of the 250 acres that comprise the Blue Monster. He turned an old course-gone-soft into an invigorated new course flexing its muscle.

Reed was one of only three of 69 players to break par. The field included the top 50-ranked men in the world, but the winner was the course.

I’m not sure if the 20-handicappers who can’t break 100 on it will love the new Monster. But the PGA Tourists love it. Well, as long as the wind is docile. The major overhaul has made the Blue Monster one of the most special courses on tour again.

“It’s really close to being great,” Phil Mickelson said.

“The greens were perfect,” runner-up Bubba Watson said. “Some of the best we’ve played in a long time.”

A previous major redesign in the 1990s was received brutally.

“Awful,” Scott Hoch called it. “Butchered,” was Mark Calcavecchia’s word.

This time they got it right. And now, Trump’s stewardship and revitalization of the Monster ensures the WGC will remain a fixture at Doral for at least the next 10 years — which in turn ensures that a great South Florida tradition will continue.

For more than a half century, since 1962, this same patch of Miami land has hosted a PGA Tour event. In fact, only two golf courses in America enjoy a longer run on the same course: the Masters, at Augusta National since 1934, and the Colonial, at the same Fort Worth location since 1946.

The Blue Monster shines anew in that rare company, better than ever.

Even if perhaps you’d rather not give Donald Trump credit for that.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

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