- Associated Press - Sunday, January 31, 2021

SAN DIEGO — Patrick Reed was so unaffected by a rules controversy a day earlier that he won the Farmers Insurance Open by five shots, the biggest margin in his nine career PGA Tour victories.

Reed closed with a 4-under 68 at Torrey Pines, making an eagle on the par-5 sixth and finishing off his dominating Sunday with a birdie on the 18th.

The former Masters champions finished at 14 under after a consistent four days at the blufftop municipal courses overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He shared the first-round lead with Alex Noren, was in a group one shot off the lead in the second round and then shared the third-round lead with Carlos Ortiz.

Reed said staying mentally strong, as well as good play with his wedge and putter, were able to “keep me in the golf tournament and really allowed me to have a fun stroll up 18.”

The controversy arose Saturday on the par-4 10th when Reed hit a 190-yard shot out of a bunker with a TV replay showing the ball bounced once before settling into the rough. Without waiting for an official, Reed picked up the ball to see if it was embedded. Reed told the official that no one in his group, as well as a nearby volunteer, saw it bounce. He was awarded a free drop and saved par in a round of 70.



On Sunday, Reed jump-started his round with a 45-foot eagle putt on the No. 6 to get to 12 under and followed with a birdie on the par-4 seventh. His only bogey was on the par-3 eighth, and he rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. He played par the rest of the way until sinking an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

“I was allowed to kind of put it behind me when the head rules official comes up and says you did everything you were supposed to do,” Reed said. “When you do everything you’re supposed to do, at the end of the day that’s all you can control. Going into today, I felt good, I felt confident and really went to the golf course, plugged in my headphones and just kind of got in my world with my coach and got to that first tee.”

Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Ryan Palmer, Henrik Norlander and Viktor Hovland tied for second.

Reed said he was resiliant.

“I knew today was going to be a grind, especially with that leaderboard and seeing how many big names were right around there at the top. I knew you were going to have to go out and play on offense. You couldn’t play defense. You had to go out there and shoot a number.

“It was kind of shaky there early on in the beginning, kind of a couple shots that seemed to kind of get a little bit away from me. But I was able to rely on the short game early and get in a groove there in the middle of the round.”

Hovland had been the closest in pursuit with four birdies on the front nine, including on the ninth to get to 12 under. But the birdies dried up and he bogeyed Nos. 14, 15 and 17 - missing a 2-footer on 17 - in a round of 1-under 71.

“The front nine was awesome, made four birdies and was just really solid tee to green; made some putts there as well,” Hovland said. “On the back I didn’t really feel like I played bad at all, you know, it was just a couple of mistakes and it’s so easy to just let things kind of slip away.

“But it’s cool to kind of be up there having a chance to win. Didn’t work out this time, but I feel like I learned a lot.”

Ortiz stumbled badly with a round of 6-over 78. He hurt himself with three bogeys on the front nine that left him even at the turn. He had even more trouble on the back nine, when he bogeyed No. 11 and then had trouble getting out of a greenside bunker on No. 12, taking a double-bogey 6. He bogeyed 15, 16 and 18.

Rory McIlroy closed with a 1-over 73 and finished eight shots behind, and still was a big part of Sunday. With so much attention on Reed taking relief from the embedded lie Saturday, McIlroy had something similar happen on the 18th hole in the third round. When he finally found it, he determined it was embedded, informed the other two players in his group and dropped it into deep rough right of the fairway.

The PGA Tour issued a statement earlier Sunday that both players proceeded under the rules. Reed took one extra step by calling for a rules official to confirm, though he had already removed the ball from where it had been.

“You’re trying to deal with the info that you have at that time, and the info that Patrick had at that time was the ball hadn’t bounced and the info that I had at that time was the same,” McIlroy said. “And I went down and on my life, that ball of mine was plugged, it was in its own pitch mark, so I took relief.

“In golf, you’d rather be on the wrong side of the rules than the right side of them, just because that’s just what our game’s about.”

DIVOTS: Jon Rahm, who won the Famers in 2017 and was runner-up last year, shot even-par 72 and was in a group of three at 8 under. … San Diegan Phil Mickelson shot a 72 to finish 1 over. … The U.S. Open will be played at Torrey Pines on June 17-20.

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