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By : BGA Pro Shop
Another April Sunday at Augusta and another Masters is complete. Patrick Reed started the day three shots clear of Rory McIlroy with Rickie Fowler a further two shots back and a packed leader board behind them.
The anticipation was high as like most Sundays at Augusta, something always happens. There were some early morning solid rounds but it was England’s Paul Casey who caught fire first. Casey started the day at +2 and was probably never really in the picture, but when he got his round to -9 through 15 holes, we thought a record breaking round was on the cards. Casey made three birdies on the front nine and then went birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie from the eleventh to the fifteenth hole. Unfortunately for Casey, he went on to bogey both the seventeenth and eighteenth holes to settle for a -7, 65.
Much talked about Tony Finau was next to catch fire. If you missed it, Finau dislocated his ankle earlier in the week after a run away celebration ended horribly. Finau proceeded to sprint up the hole following a hole in one during the par three contest. The uneven ground caught him by surprise and pop went his ankle. It was a miracle Finau competed let alone lead during day one with a heavily strapped foot. Finau made six straight birdies on Sunday from the twelfth to the seventeenth hole and only just missed a birdie on eighteen. He managed to finish -7 for the tournament and tied for tenth place.
During the day, our very own Cameron Smith slowly moved up the leader board as he finished a great week for him with a -6, 66 which included six birdies on the back nine and it really should have been seven as he missed an easily makeable putt on eighteen. He would finish in the top 5 for the tournament which was a great result given his recent move into the top fifty in the world rankings.
But it was Jordan Spieth again who would steal the stage. Spieth, who in the last four years has won the Masters and finished second twice came into Sunday stating “this will be the first round I’ll have in Augusta where I can just relax and enjoy the round”. He was nine strokes back at the start of the day but opened his account with back to back birdies on the first two holes. He would then go on to make three more birdies on the front nine and found himself right up the leader board as the leaders started their rounds. Before we knew it, Spieth was -10 through nine holes and sitting in the top five. Spieth had his magic wand working, and when he does, everyone else knows to get nervous.
As the lead groups started, we expected to see fire especially with Rahm, Rickie and Rory all closing in with great scores on day three. But it was a slow start for the Masters hopefuls. Rickie made par on his opening seven holes with a birdie on the fifth. Rahm birdied two and three but was halted with a bogey on four and Rory just looked like he was trying to find his rhythm as he went par, birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey and then a further bogey on the par five eighth saw him get to +1 through the turn.
It wasn’t to be for Rory as he watched others around him start to make some moves whilst he continued to block his irons and putts. Rory went on to make a bogey on eleven, a birdie on thirteen but then a bogey again on fourteen. The man that most expected to fire and win his career grand slam just could not get it going as he struggled yet again on another Sunday at Augusta.
Spieth steadied with only pars on ten and eleven as he stepped up to his dreaded twelfth hole at Augusta. A hole which he has found the water on many times and to his own admission has demons about. The hole which cost him a second Masters victory. With a solid strike, Spieth hit it safely to the back edge of the green and cheered in relief as he knew he had faced his demon. With an unlikely stroke with his magic wand, Spieth rattled in a long birdie putt and shook the grounds of Augusta with the crowds roar. As his name and score would change on the leader board, Patrick Reed could see that the former champ was closing right in. Spieth went on to make birdies at thirteen, fifteen and sixteen as another loud eruption confirmed he had tied Patrick Reed at -14 atop the leader board.
Rahm made a birdie on seven and with further birdies on thirteen and fourteen, found himself at -12 and just two shots back from the lead. Rickie Fowler made birdies on eight, nine, twelve, and thirteen to also move to -12.
Overnight leader Patrick Reed started his day opening with a bogey. He was able to get that shot back on three but then made another bogey on six. Able to rally again, Reed fought straight back with a birdie on seven. But Reed looked shaky. He was holding on to drives and not quite making the shots we had seen of him the first three days. A further unlucky bogey at eleven put him back to -13 and it looked like he would lose top spot. Approaching the daunting twelfth hole, Reed place his tee shot safely to the rear back centre of the green much the same as Jordan Spieth did earlier. Receiving a friendly read from playing partner Rory McIlroy, Reed took advantage and like Spieth rolled in a long twenty two foot putt for birdie and to take him back to -14.
Meanwhile, Rickie went on to make another birdie at fifteen to move to -13 whilst Spieth hit a pine tree with his tee shot on eighteen. His tee shot would shoot his ball straight back and leave him not too far from the tee box and with no chance of reaching the green in regulation. Needing magic, Jordan would again lift the crowds to their feet as he wedged his third shot to within ten feet on his closing hole. All he needed now was to sink his putt for a record tying -9 round 63. The third player to ever shoot that low and the first to do it on Sunday. But Spieth would release the pressure valve on Reed as his putt lipped off the left edge. He would settle for bogey a round of -8, 64 and -13 over all tied with Fowler.
Reed should have lost at least one stroke on thirteen. Reed hit his second shot into the green on the scoring opportunity par five. But his iron shot only just cleared the creek crossing and hit the bank as we all watched thinking he had found water. But lucky enough, the previous rain had soften the banks enough for his ball to sink into the longer cut of grass and stay up on the bank. He would go on to make par.
Taking full advantage of his luck, Reed made a beautiful drive and approach into the fourteenth green and once again fought back with a birdie to get to -15 and the outright lead once again.
On seventeen, Reed found himself blocked out after another unconvincing drive. He attempted a cut shot into the green but didn’t pull it off and left himself on the short left side whilst the hole was on the middle right side of the green. With a sixty plus foot putt, Reed gave his ball a good knock as it made its way from one side of the green to the other catching all the undulation along the way. But it was clear that Reed had over cooked the putt and it ran across the green with pace.
Meanwhile, Fowler hit his approach on eighteen and with a roar of affirmation, Rickie new he’d hit a beauty. Needing just a six foot for putt for birdie and with Reed in trouble on seventeen, Rickie’s fans (and there’s plenty of them) dared to dream that this was his time and moment. But as Rickie walked toward the green to the cheers of the huge crowds on eighteen, Reeds rocketing putt smacked between the hole and the flag pole to land just five feet away for a par saving opportunity. Not for the first time, Reed had caught some luck and took full advantage as he made his par and walked to the eighteenth hole at Augusta two shots clear.
As he stood on the tee box, a roar erupted through Augusta once again as Rickie Fowler made his birdie putt and moved to within one shot at -14. There is no doubt that Reed had to have been feeling the pressure as he stepped up to hit his drive knowing that he would have to make at least a par to win the Master outright. Not getting the better of him, Reed hit a safe drive short of the bunkers on the left fairway. He then hit his approach and what looked like it could end up really good missed long and left to the intended landing area leaving a tricky birdie putt down a fast breaking mound. Just tapping his putt, Reeds ball would pick up momentum as it rolled down the hill and broke right past the hole. He would have a tricky four footer but made it to win the 2018 Masters.
There were many moments during the week where Reed was in trouble and got lucky and many where he bailed himself out. But whenever it was needed, the polarising American found a way continually making birdies, sticking approaches and sinking putts when he needed them. Not a fan favourite, the once self-proclaimed greatest will have many golf supporters disheartened by his victory. But like it or not, Reed deserved his victory with a great performance over four amazing days. Many say you make your own luck and Reed did exactly that. Ladies and Gentlemen, Patrick Reed is your 2018 Masters Champion.