Interpreting the Numbers on the PGA
Following the Humana Challenge this week, someone placed young Patrick Reed in the position of being, perhaps, the next greatest thing in the post-Tiger era. I was, of course, astonished, one more than one front. First of all, the post-Tiger era? With so much Tiger left in Tiger? What, is he going to play 2014 with a gnarled cane and cataracts? Call me crazy, but I found the very idea absurd and disorienting, especially considering my age.
My other astonishment was that the author might, in the end, be right. Patrick Reed blew away the field in the Humana, shooting the best 54 hole score in the history of the PGA – via three consecutive rounds of 63. Now, if we were talking about the meaning of that in some ancient document or Greek/Phoenician code for the god of sport, such a pattern would mean something entirely different. What it means today is that Patrick Reed is up to some flat out wicked golf, and if he makes a habit of it, he might, indeed, be the next greatest thing.
Fred Couples has shot two straight 65s this week in Hawaii at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. What if he does it again? We can spot an older man a couple of strokes and call it fabulous, canâ€™t we? The only other difference, of course, is that Fred isnâ€™t leading the tournament.
Rory got his numbers going a bit for a change with rounds of 70, 67, 70, 68. Thereâ€™s almost a discernible pattern there, except that the third round 70 should have been a 68. Foot on the relief zone line, indeed.Â Balderdash! Poppycock! Horse feathers (Thatâ€™s so I wonâ€™t say something less polite)!
But three rounds of 63 – thatâ€™s six nines of 31.5, thatâ€™s 189 for three rounds. 63 sounds like an age thatâ€™s becoming increasingly relevant to me. And, to get a sixty-three, you have to pretty much birdie half of everything you attempt – amazing, astonishing.
We who were looking (and I wasnâ€™t) caught early glimpses of this in Reed. He won the 2006 Junior British Amateur while he was in high school, qualified for the U.S. Amateur in â€™07, led his high school to two championships, was a junior all-American for two years, led his college, Augusta State (thereâ€™s power in that word – now we know it for sure) to two national championships, and reached the semis of the ’08 U.S. Amateur.
Then he won the 2013 Wyndham Championship, and started all the confusion about who is to be the next greatest thing. You see, he defeated Jordan Spieth in a playoff to win that tournament, and I always thought that Jordan Spieth was supposed to be the next greatest thing (although I wonâ€™t bring myself to say â€œin the post-Tiger era,” no sir.) I thought that Jordan Spieth was that guy who, one of these days, would reel off three rounds of 63.
Reed, of course, has a secret weapon, a wife caddy who can apparently read a green like a children’s book. When they get their ju-ju working, he goes into what he describes as a â€œputting comaâ€ which, contrary to its initial sound, is a good thing. I donâ€™t know if Roryâ€™s tennis star can do that, and sheâ€™s pretty busy elsewhere. Fred doesnâ€™t seem to need one, being a pretty good reader himself, but who knows – they might have been 63s if he had one.
Reed did, indeed, go on to win the tournament with a mere 71, which makes no apparent pattern that I can detect, but seemed to be good enough. He is twenty-four years of age, and I have to wonder when his prime will hit. Four or five years from now? His sea legs are established, heâ€™s missed his early cuts before suddenly appearing all the time in the top ten. Now heâ€™s won for the second time – but the post-Tiger era? Câ€™mon! I just donâ€™t see that in the numbers.