Augusta: Patrick Reed wiped the table clean on a day when Rory McIlroy’s career goal stayed unfulfilled; Jordan Spieth came within a whisker of equalling Augusta National’s course record and almost pulled off the greatest comeback in Masters history and Rickie Fowler was still left without a Major.
He admits Tiger Woods is his hero and loves wearing the same Red and Black as a tribute to the legend. But on this Sunday, with Nike deciding on an Azaleas theme, he donned the Azalea colours of pink and green. Later he said, “It works. You know, with Nike kind of on the story line of having the azalea colors towards the end of the week, it seemed great out there. You know, just kind of one of those things that going out and playing on such great, green grass and having all those beautiful flowers and azaleas around seemed fitting."
Reed, who was second at his previous Major the 2017 PGA Championships, finished the week with a 71 after rounds of 69-66-67 on the first three days and totaled 15-under 273 to beat back a whole host of challengers ranging from Rickie Fowler (67) at 14-under to Spieth (64) at 13-under and Jon Rahm (69) at 11-under for his Major.
For the record, Tiger Woods played his first sub par round of 69 that had an eagle on 15th, five birdies and four bogeys. At 1-over for the tournament, he finished T-32.
Reed, who had never shot a round below 70 before the first round this week, became the first player since 2010 to play his first three rounds in 60s, before his 71 on Sunday, when challengers came for him one after another.
First was McIlroy, with whom it became some kind of match play. The scores and the gap kept rising and falling but Reed still kept his nose ahead. McIlroy managed to challenge Reed for the first six holes, despite his own putting failing. But as his putting woes continued—he missed at least five makeable putts inside 10 feet on the front nine —Reed pulled ahead and Mcllroy fell by the wayside.
Then there was Spieth, who started the day nine behind Reed. He played the round of his life and even reached course record equalling 9-under before bogeying 18th, as he his eight-foot par attempt slid by. Earlier Spieth birdied the 16th to tie Reed at 14-under. But the latter again pulled ahead with a birdie on 15th. As Spieth dropped a shot on 18th to fall to 13-under, Reed turned his attention to Fowler.
Fowler was nowhere for the first seven holes when he was 1-over for the day. But the birdie on Par-5 eighth perked him up, After that Fowler kept piling on the birdies and made his way up. Despite playing in a group after Spieth, Fowler was keeping pace till Spieth moved from 13-under to 14-under with a brilliant 33-footer for birdie on 16th. As Spieth bogeyed 18th, Fowler hit a wedge for a second shot and it landed him a chance to birdie from seven feet. He holed it to become the new clubhouse leader at 14-under, but was still one behind Reed.
Reed kept plugging away, handling tense drives, making great approaches and nailing the crucial par putts. On the 18th, needing to par to win, he landed his second shot on the ridge line at the green and about 25 feet from the pin from where he needed two putts for the Green Jacket. He got his putt to just less than four feet and holed it as everyone, including Fowler held their breath.
Unlike many players, Reed loves watching the scoreboard at each hole, “I always watch leaderboards, no matter what event it is, whether it’s the first hole on Thursday or the last hole on Sunday. For some reason, my eyes are I always want to know where I stand.
“So yes, I saw Jordan and Rickie just storm up those leaderboards and go up. I knew when I birdied 14, was about the same time that Jordan bogeyed the last. That point, I knew as long as there wasn’t just any catastrophic implosions coming in, that was going to be basically between Rickie and I."
“I felt like that putt I made on 17, and to basically keep my 1 up lead going into the last, and to have that iron shot not come down the hill on 18, knowing that it’s probably the fastest putt on the golf course, is just another one of those many tests that I had to try to get over in order to win my first major."
Finally, Reed, who had not won since August 2016, concluded, “Coming into this year one of my biggest goals was to win a major and compete in golf (Majors) tournaments. Hopefully I can just take this momentum going forward and play some really solid golf."