LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Reed got an early start in golf.
"When I was born, there was a golf club in my crib," Reed said.
He got a big jump on the field in the Humana Challenge, too, shooting three straight 9-under 63s to take a seven-stroke lead into the final round.
Struggling with the pace of his putts, he needed almost all of that cushion Sunday, closing with a 1-under 71 at PGA West to beat Ryan Palmer by two strokes.
"A lot tougher than the first three rounds," Reed said. "My speed was off today. I left a lot of putts short. It seemed like the first three days the ball was just trickling over the front edge, and today it seemed like it came to a screeching halt."
Finally resembling the guy who talked Saturday about being in a "putting coma," Reed ran in an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 15th to push his lead to three strokes.
"It felt comfortable. It felt great," Reed said. "I was able to play the last three holes just for par rather than trying to make birdies or trying to make something happen."
He did par the last three to finish at 28-under 260 in the three-course event that he opened and closed on the Arnold Palmer Private Course.
The 23-year-old Reed has two victories in his first 46 PGA Tour starts, winning the Wyndham Championship in August. He jumped from 69th to 41st in the world ranking, enough to lock up a spot in the 64-man Match Play Championship.
"I always play to try to prove to everybody that I belong out here," Reed said. "As well as, I belong, not only out here on the PGA Tour, but also with the best players in the world."
Reed took a call from former President Bill Clinton — the tournament is run in partnership with the Clinton Foundation — during his interview session.
"He told me to get myself back in that zone more often," Reed said. "Because he said it was a lot of fun to watch."
Palmer made a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole for a 63.
"What can you do with what Patrick did this week?" Palmer said. "It's ridiculous what he did. Amazing how good he played. We'll come up a couple short, but it was a win in my game because I was playing for second today."
Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard tied for third at 25 under. Johnson birdied the final five holes for a 62, the best round of the week.
"I got red hot at the end," Johnson said.