AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed fought off furious back-nine challenges from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to record a one-shot victory at the Masters on Sunday.
The final round began with Reed holding a three-shot advantage over Rory McIlroy, but while the Northern Irishman’s challenge faded Reed had to hold off his hard-charging U.S. Ryder Cup teammates to claim his first major championship.
Needing a two-putt par from 26 feet at the 18th to clinch the title, Reed ran his first putt four feet past the hole, took a deep breath and held his nerve rolling a knee-knocker into the cup for a one-under 71 that ended Fowler’s hopes of a playoff.
The fiery leader of recent U.S. Ryder and Presidents Cup efforts, Reed displayed plenty of the same brash spirit that earned him the “Captain America” moniker while adding his name to the list of Masters champions.
“Today was definitely probably the hardest mentally a round of golf could possibly be,” said Reed, who posted a 15-under 273 total. “It was going to be tough, anytime trying to close off a golf tournament is really tough.”
Fowler, who remains without a major title, had put the pressure on with a back nine charge that featured six birdies over his final 11 holes, including one at the last, but his 67 and 14-under total would not be enough.
Before Fowler took up the challenge of overhauling Reed, it was Spieth leading the chase with a sizzling eight-under 64 that matched the lowest final round at a Masters to finish two shots back.
Sitting nine shots off the pace at the start of the day, Spieth was an afterthought as spectators filed into Augusta National but was once again in the Masters spotlight when the Green Jacket was up for grabs.
In four Masters appearances, Spieth also has two runner-up finishes and a tie for 11th last year.
While establishing his championship credentials with five PGA Tour wins and runner-up finish at the 2017 PGA Championships at Quail Hollow, Reed, who had never had round under 70 at Augusta National, was not rated among the hot favorites when the year’s first major got underway.
But after opening the tournament with three straight rounds in the 60s Reed had everyone’s attention.
Only is final round 71 kept Reed from writing his name in the Masters record books as the first golfer to post four sub-70 rounds.
“You know, just kind of one of those things that you expect that trying to go win your first major that people are going to make runs and it’s not going to be easy,” said Reed. “You’re going to have to go out and play a good round of golf and shoot under par.”