Rickie Fowler found it hard to criticize himself for not winning the Masters on Sunday.
After all, he shot 65-67 on the weekend at Augusta National, did not have a 5 on his scorecard after a bogey at the fifth hole and birdied the 72nd hole to pull within one shot and force Patrick Reed to par the last to win.
Reed did, and Fowler's 14-under-par 274 gave him eight top-five finishes in majors, and his third runner-up spot.
"Unfortunately, one shot short," he said. "We were able to keep P Reed honest out there, at least making him earn it."
Fowler's game was sharp. He hit 12 greens and 11 fairways and needed only 26 putts. For the second day in a row he had no three-putt greens.
He bounced back from his only bogey to birdie Nos. 8 and 9 then make the turn and birdie Nos. 12 and 13 on 10-footers.
A two-putt birdie at No. 15 gave Fowler his fifth in eight holes, and he played No. 18 flawlessly, with a booming drive, a precise iron shot and a 7-foot putt.
The patrons at No. 18 roared so loud that Reed later said, "I knew it had to be Rickie."
Fowler's only regret was his 70-72 start, which left him seven shots behind Reed to begin the third round. He was five back to start Sunday.
"I've got to put myself where I'm not five back, then shoot 67," Fowler said. "I didn't quite have the front nine I needed (today). I did a great job of keeping myself in it but just put myself too far back to actually get out to maybe evening up with Patrick earlier or getting out in front."
Fowler said he and his team have learned the best practices for getting ready for a major, and practicing and preparing once the week arrives.
It's now a matter of hitting the right shots at the right times — and Fowler did that to his satisfaction Sunday.
"I am ready to go win a major," he said. "This was kind of the first major week that I understood that and knew that and felt that. I would say, previously, [I was] still feeling the nerves and dealing with tough rounds and things not going your way."
Fowler is leaving with optimism.
"It should be a very good major season," he said.