The duel with playing partner Rory McIlroy was a dud. That was fine with Patrick Reed, who had his hands full holding off Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth on Sunday to win the 82nd Masters Tournament for his first major championship.
Reed, a former Augusta State University All-American, held his game together under intense pressure as the 54-hole leader. His first major win came in his 17th overall appearance and fifth Masters.
After failing to break 70 in his 12 previous rounds at Augusta National, he caught fire with three rounds in the 60s to build a three-shot lead after 54 holes.
Reed, a 27-year-old who lives in Spring, Texas, closed with 1-under-par 71 after opening with 69-66-67.
Fowler, who started the day five shots off Reed’s lead, had 67 and came up one shot short.
Spieth, who was nine shots back to start the day, pulled even with Reed when he made a 33-footer for birdie on No. 16 – his fourth birdie in five holes. It put Spieth at 9-under for the round with two holes to play. He burned the lip for birdie on No. 17 and then made bogey on No. 18 while Reed eased back in front by playing his final seven holes in 2-under fashion.
Spieth missed a 9-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have tied the course record shared by Greg Norman and Nick Price. He shot 64, joining Norman as the only golfers in the Masters to shoot 64 or better twice. Spieth finished two shots back of Reed.
“To win your first major is never going to be easy,” said Reed, adding that he saw Spieth and Fowler “storm up those leaderboards. It definitely wasn’t easy today. I knew it was going to be a dogfight. It’s just a way of God basically saying, ‘Let’s see if you have it.’ Everyone knows you have it physically with the talent, but do you have it mentally? Can you handle the ups and downs throughout the round?”
Reed moved to No. 12 in the world ranking and won $1.98 million for his sixth career victory, but his first since August 2016. Reed’s putter might have been the difference. He led the field with fewest putts (104, five fewer than No. 2 McIlroy), capped by only 25 on Sunday.
“I’m just happy to be up here and be able to say I’ve gotten over that hump of not winning at all last year, coming into a year that one of my biggest goals was to win a major and compete in golf tournaments,” Reed said. “To be able to get them both at once, to end the drought and win a major, it helps me mentally, and also helps my résumé, and hopefully I can just take this momentum going forward and play some really solid golf.”
Reed didn’t become the first golfer to shoot in the 60s in every round of the Masters or make a run at the tournament scoring record (he needed 68 to tie it) but he has a green jacket (size 44, he said).
“It was a steady round. I didn’t get too high or too low,” Reed said. “It was definitely harder than I thought it would be.”
Just before Fowler made a birdie on No. 18, Reed knocked in a 5-footer for par on No. 17.
That meant Reed needed a par on No. 18 for the victory. After a 293-yard drive in the fairway, he knocked a 24-foot downhill putt 4 feet past the hole. When he made the comebacker, Reed finished at 15-under 273 for the tournament.
Spieth, who won here in 2015, now has two runner-up finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for 11th in his Masters career.
“It was kind of nerve-racking,” Reed said of watching Spieth edge closer and closer to him. “I’m kind of glad he ran out of holes.”
It was the last hole that finally did Spieth in.
“I was pretty gutted at the finish,” said Spieth, whose drive on the 18th hole clipped a branch and left him 325 yards to the hole, dooming his hopes of a birdie and a course record.
Jon Rahm closed with 69 and finished fourth, four behind Reed.
McIlroy, seeking to be the sixth player to complete the career grand slam – and the first – must wait again to get it done. He shot 74 and tied for fifth place with Cameron Smith (66 on Sunday), Bubba Watson (69) and Henrik Stenson (70), six behind Reed.
Reed, a regular watcher of Golf Channel, felt the victory validated his talent and ability to close out a tournament.
“I was going in with a Sunday lead, listening to all the analysts this morning when I was watching golf, and every single one of them picked Rory except me besides for Notah (Begay). ... Thanks, Notah. Appreciate it. You’re my boy.”
Fowler could be next in line for the first major of his career. He has eight top-five finishes in majors since 2011, the most of any active player without a win. He finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014.
“Maybe I’ll do that again this year and throw a trophy in there,” Fowler said. “Unfortunately, it was one shot short (Sunday). Solo second sounds better than tied for second. So it was nice to edge out Jordan for second place.”
Fowler, playing in the group in front of Reed, was thrilled to make the birdie on No. 18 to keep the pressure on Reed.
“We gave it our all; we left it all out there,” Fowler said. “We made P. Reed earn it. It was nice to get the one at the last to keep him honest.”
McIlroy was undone by poor iron shots and a balky putter. He hit only eight greens in regulation, and a day after he needed 23 putts, McIlroy took 30 on Sunday. Had he won, the victory would have fallen on the 83rd anniversary of Gene Sarazen winning the Masters to be the first person to complete the career grand slam.
Tiger Woods, playing in his first Masters in three years, had his best round of the week with 69 and finished in a tie for 32nd place.
“I thoroughly missed it; I missed playing major championships,” said Woods, who hit 15 greens in regulation but needed 32 putts. “It was great to be back and to have a chance early in the week. I didn’t hit my irons good enough, and it didn’t pan out.”
Phil Mickelson also had a strong final round with 67. Mickelson, who had 79 on Friday, tied for 36th place.