(Reuters) – Patrick Reed displayed typically steely resolve and an assured putting touch, outlasting fellow American Bryson DeChambeau for a one-stroke victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday.
Reed took the lead with a tap-in birdie at the 16th hole and went further ahead with another birdie at the 17th at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.
Though the 2018 Masters champion bogeyed the last after a wild drive, his cushion proved enough, with a four-under-par 67 final round sealing the deal.
Reed finished at 18-under 266 for his eighth PGA Tour victory, and his second at the World Golf Championships event, his previous one coming at Doral in Florida in 2014. He is expected to vault to eighth in the world rankings.
Six players were bunched within one stroke of the lead halfway through the final round, before DeChambeau seemingly seized control with five birdies in six holes.
But DeChambeau’s charge petered out, and a three-putt bogey at the 17th pretty much ended his chances as Reed instead timed his run to the finish line perfectly.
“I had to get up-and-down almost every hole on the front nine,” Reed said in a greenside interview, explaining his gritty determination to hang in until things turned around.
“This was the same attitude I bring every time I go to the golf course, something to prove to myself, that I deserve to be in this position, deserve to have a chance to win tournaments.
“And when I get in those positions being able to deal with the nerves and the highs and lows that go on during a round. It definitely tested me today with the birdie barrage in front of me from Bryson and Jon (Rahm).”
Runner-up DeChambeau shot 65 for 17-under 267, with Spaniard Rahm and South African Erik van Rooyen two shots further back in a tie for third.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy finished four shots behind, while American overnight leader Justin Thomas hit several wayward drives, shooting 73 and plunging five shots back.
“I three-putted twice and that’s the tournament right there,” said DeChambeau, who also lamented a couple of poor iron shots.
“There’s a couple of things I need to tighten up in order to win.”
Reed, meanwhile, spoke of the mental and physical demands of playing at almost 8,000-feet (2,500m) altitude.
“You always feel like you’re gasping for air,” he said. “You need to be able to pull that adrenaline back and figure out how to hit quality golf shots.
“As it started getting harder for me, and as the leaderboard started getting closer, I seem to be able to kick it in gear and turn it on when I need to turn it on.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)