Patrick Reed held off challenges from Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to win his first major title at the 82nd edition of The Masters
It wasn't the Patrick Reed vs Rory McIlroy Ryder Cup match-up everyone expected, but 'Captain American' still prevailed as he held off a strong challenge from both Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to cement his first major title with a two-putt par on the 18th hole of Augusta National.
The 27 year old Texan, who went to college at Augusta State just a few miles away, put on an impressively gritty display throughout the final round of the Masters to claim the green jacket with a one-under 71 to finish at 15-under-par. It wasn't the perfect round, but it was more than good enough for victory.
"It's almost impossible to put in to words," Reed said after his win.
"Just to make the putt on the last and watch the ball go in the hole and know that I won my first major and to finally end the drought of not winning last year. It was one of my huge goals coming in to this year to not only contend in majors but also get back on that winning circle and to do it in the first major and to kind of finish of that drought it just meant so much to me."
"I knew it was going to be tough. Anytime just trying to close off a golf tournament is really hard but to close off your first major and to do it at a place that's so close to me, being its where I went to college..."
"It was tough out there. But to be able to make that putt on 14 and then to make the two putt on 17 it just kind of gave me that momentum to go in to 18 which in the past has given me so many issues so to have to par the last hole to win my first major it definitely felt right."
Reed got off to a nervy start on the 1st hole with an opening bogey that included a wayward drive and an approach shot in to the bunker, but everytime he made mistakes he responded with the marks of a major champion.
Within just two holes Reed's three shot overnight lead was quickly cut to one by Rory McIlroy, but the Northern Irishman's quest to become the sixth man to win the career grand slam would not get closer than that for the rest of the round as his putting failed to reach the high standards of the previous three days.
Reed birdied the 3rd to get back to level for the day, and after a bogey-birdie run on the 6th and 7th, the American restored his lead to three shots. He extended his advantage to four shots after McIlroy's putting woes continued and he made a six on the par-five 8th, but an unexpected birdie spectacle from 2015 Champion Jordan Spieth meant that lead was cut back to three by the turn.
Spieth continued to pile pressure on Reed as he reached nine-under par for his round, and by the time Reed dropped a shot on the 11th, Spieth had holed an enormous 33-footer for birdie on 16 to catch him at the top of the leaderboard.
Reed responded with a huge birdie putt of his own on the 12th to reclaim possession of the lead, and as Spieth hit a tree with his tee shot on 18 and made bogey, his Ryder Cup partner increased his lead to two with another gain on the 14th.
Four pars in his last four holes were enough for Reed to ensure he was leaving Augusta National with a green jacket despite a big charge from Fowler, who piled on the pressure with four birdies in his final seven holes to post the clubhouse lead of 14-under-par, one clear of Spieth.
He stood on the 18th tee knowing he needed a par to win and proceeded to hit a drive slightly down the left before putting his approach shot to 8 feet. A tap down the hill gave him three feet for victory, and he celebrated with a double fist pump as his ball rattled into the cup.
Rickie Fowler: One shot away from Major success
If there were any doubts Rickie Fowler is ready to win a major, they were finally put to bed as he made a clutch birdie putt on the last to pile the pressure on Patrick Reed - forcing the leader to make a par on the l8th.
It wasn't to be for Rickie this week, but he gave an excellent Sunday performance to record his best ever finish at The Masters and posting his first runner-up in a major since both The Open and US Open in 2014.
Six birdies in the last 11 holes was a valiant effort from Fowler, who had just one blemish on his card at the par-four 5th hole during his five-under 67.
"It was a solid weekend," Fowler said afterwards. "I felt like I’ve been catching some heat for not having the best of weekends and I think the stats have shown that Saturday and Sunday haven’t been my strong rounds as of late."
"But to stick to our game-plan and keep executing and making the swings that I’m accustomed to and should be making on the weekends, it was nice to put together a solid weekend – 65, 67 here when it was still playing tough. You have to go round and execute and I’m very pleased with how I played."
Spieth cards lowest round of the week, comes close to victory
Jordan Spieth was the surprising and outstanding challenger on Sunday, shooting an eight under par 64 and even briefly holding the lead alongside Patrick Reed.
The 2015 champion and first round leader started the day 9 shots behind Reed, but raced to the turn with five birdies for an opening 31. Spieth's momentum increased on the 12th as he threw his arms up in celebration having made it over the water – the hole which saw him lose the title in 2016 – and went on to make a long birdie putt from off the green get in to second place on his own.
With six holes to go, Spieth decided to take on the par-five 13th and put his approach to 12 feet. He left the eagle out to the left side, but a tap in birdie would move him within two shots of Reed's lead. Spieth then birdied the final par-five of the day to get to within one, and matched Reed at 14-under with a huge 33-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th.
Standing on the 18th one shot back after his birdie putt on 17 burned the hole, Spieth knew he needed a birdie to give himself a good look at the title. Instead, his tee shot clipped a tree and failed to even make it to the fairway. He managed to put his third shot to 8 feet, but couldn’t finish it off and ended with an eight-under 64 to post the lowest score of the championship and the clubhouse lead at 13-under.
It wouldn’t quite be enough, but it continues his impressive Masters record. In five tournament appearances, he’s gone T2-1-T2-T11-3.
"I probably should have played a draw off that tee but no regrets in the round," Spieth said after his round. "I got kind of a tough break there and shot an eight-under 64 on Sunday at Augusta."
"I need to look at today from a really positive viewpoint going forward to set up the rest of the year."