Patrick Reed dominated par 5s on way to victory

Rory McIlroy played the par-5s well during the Masters but ran into trouble on No. 8 on Sunday, finding the pine straw to the right of the bunker off the tee and missing a short par putt. [TODD BENNETT/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Just like many champions before him, Patrick Reed dominated the par-5s at Augusta National Golf Club to win the Masters Tournament.

Despite settling for par on Nos. 13 and 15 in the final round, Reed played the quartet of holes 13-under in four rounds. It’s the second-best performance on the par-5s in tournament history by a champion, trailing by one shot Raymond Floyd’s effort in 1976, which also cleared his path to victory.

Floyd inserted a 5-wood in the bag that week to help launch high approach shots designed to land softly on Augusta National’s firm greens. Reed didn’t make any similar equipment adjustments and often needed only a mid-iron on his second shot because he pounded drives 299.2 yards – sixth in the field – and capitalized on the holes where the players can rarely afford a par.

A decision to lay up on No. 15 on Sunday after he pulled his tee shot behind the pine trees led to a par that helped him avoid disaster.

“I wanted to go for it on 15 because I had a tiny little window,” he said. “(My caddie) is like, ‘No, we have the lead. Chip it down there. Let's try to make birdie with your wedge. Worst‑case scenario, we'll make par."

The field made 25 eagles and 46 percent of their 925 birdies on the par-5s, and the leaderboard reflected the players who played them in the fewest strokes. They were the four easiest holes on the course.

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Rickie Fowler fell one shot short of his first major championship. He can place a piece of the blame on missed chances on No. 13 early in the week, though he did make birdie there Sunday to maintain momentum in pursuit of Reed. The 13th was the easiest hole on the course for the tournament (4.61 stroke average), yet Fowler made par in each of the first three rounds. He was 9-under for the week on the par-5s.

Jordan Spieth was perfect on Nos. 13 and 15 for the week – eight birdies – and 12-under on the par-5s, birdieing each one Sunday during his thrilling final-round 64 and third-place finish. He also hit one of the shots of the tournament on No. 13 to fuel the back-nine charge, escaping the pine straw from 230 yards out to set up a 12-foot eagle putt.

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm played the par-5s well for the week, but both can point to the 8th hole on Sunday as where they lost steam on their quest for a major championship.

After a perfect drive, Rahm hooked his approach shot left of the mounds and had to scramble for par. McIlroy found the pine straw right of the bunker off the tee and made a complete mess, missing yet another short par putt. 

Rahm also squandered another opportunity when he found the water hazard on No. 15 and made bogey.

“The only down I would say is the second shot on 15,” said Rahm, who was 11-under on the par-5s including three birdies and an eagle on No. 2.

“You know, it's sad, it's sad too, because I played so good the last three days and that one shot, one shot where I feel like I made a perfect swing and wound up in the water,” he said. “It's just hurtful. It's actually two of them, 13 yesterday and today on 15. Besides that, I think I handled myself really well. I played good golf, gave myself plenty of opportunities.”

Whether it was Sergio Garcia’s eagle on No. 15 a year ago, Tiger Woods manhandling the par-5s en route to four green jackets or six-time champion Jack Nicklaus setting the template at Augusta National in the 1960s and '70s, taking advantage of the par-5s is a clean route to Butler Cabin.

This week, Patrick Reed followed suit.

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