Patrick Reed was playing with the lead in the last twosome today, dressed in black pants and a bright pink shirt, at the Masters. He hung on just enough to his three-shot lead starting the day to win the Masters by one stroke over Rickie Fowler with a 71 to Fowler’s 67 for a 15-under par total of 273. It was Reed’s first major win in professional golf after finishing second in the last major, in the PGA Championship last August.
Reed barely stayed in the lead or tied for the lead the last nine holes today. Various players made a run to catch him, none more than Jordan Spieth. He came from way back in the pack, starting the day at five-under par. When he reached the 18th tee, he was nine-under par for today’s round. The lowest eighteen-hole score ever shot in the Masters and the U.S. Open is 63. So, Spieth needed to birdie that hole to shoot 62 and tie Reed as it turned out. But Jordan’s drive on the 18th hole ticked a tree limb on the left. The ball didn’t even reach the fairway as he bogied the hole for a 64 to finish third.
Rickie Fowler, playing in the second to last pairing, now was the only player left on the course who had a chance to tie Reed. As it turned out, crowd-favorite Rickie needed to birdie the last two holes. They are par fours and no push overs. On both holes, Rickie hit perfect drives and irons shots right at the flagstick. On the 17th, his ball landed on the green just short of the ridge of a false front, lacking inches of being perfect. The ball then rolled backwards and off the green. Rickie parred the hole. But on the 18th hole, he made his six-foot birdie putt to finish the tournament at 14-under par, 274.
Now Reed needed only two putts from about fifteen+ feet behind the hole to win the tournament on a golf course he surely knows well since he went to college at Augusta State, now Augusta University. But Reed let his downhill putt get away and roll 3.5 feet past the hole. Most people would be shaking in their boots having to make that putt to win the Masters. President Dwight Eisenhower was an avid golfer who loved to play golf at Augusta National Golf Club. He would have called that last Reed putt “a knee-knocker.” But Patrick Reed had surely played that scenario over-and-over in his mind many-a-time throughout his twenty-seven young years. With nerves of steel, Mr. Reed stroked that putt smooth as silk as the ball rattled the bottom of the cup and he started celebrating.
The Masters has a televised tradition all its own for the winner only minutes after the tournament finish. In Butler cabin, defending champion Sergio Garcia put the Masters green jacket on Patrick Reed. Television announcer Jim Nance interviewed Patrick. Twice, Patrick spoke of the moment as “winning my first major” rather than saying, “winning a major.”
That demonstrates what I said in the beginning my post yesterday, that “Confidant Patrick Reed” was leading the Masters. He is indeed a confidant player. When he first came on the PGA Tour, he came across rather brash about his ability even though he had not yet proved that much. He claimed he was in the top five of the best professional golfers in the world. Yet the World Rankings had him somewhere outside that. But now he may be.