Augusta, 09 April: Patrick Reed is a pugilist that does not back off, even in the face of relentless attack. At the start of the day, his battle was supposed to be with Rory McIlroy. As it turned out the Ulsterman refused to show up yet again, just when he was expected to on a final Sunday at the Masters. Reed held off attacks from multiple fronts, never yielding an inch and holding forth with a steady 71 to win the Masters.
McIlroy struggled to find his best game. He missed at least five makeable putts on the front nine and far too burdened by his own expectations to make an impression. He ended the day in T5 with Cameron Smith, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson, six behind the winner.
Several aspirants put their hands up to challenge the leader.
Rickie Fowler posted a 67 including a clutch birdie at the 18th to harbor hopes of a playoff against Reed. That birdie at the final hole knocked Jordan Spieth out of the competition, but wasn’t enough to nudge Reed from his stubborn perch at the top of the heap.
The final punch came at the 17th hole. Reed flew into the second cut off the fairway from the tee, but fought back well to make par. There was a huge sigh of relief from Reed soon as he made a tricky par putt to stay ahead of Fowler. That proved valuable as Fowler went on to birdie the 18th and narrow the gap to just one.
“I felt that the par I made on the 17th was an important one,” said Reed. “I heard the roar on 18 and realized Rickie made a birdie. So that approach on the 18th and the putting under pressure were all small, yet important tests on my way to the Green Jacket.”
With a playoff still hanging in the balance, Reed remained at his steely best as he marched up the 18th and took a two putt par to shut the door on Fowler.