US Masters: Patrick Reed’s first major triumph as Rory McIlroy fades

Winner: Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, left, shakes hands with Patrick Reed after his victory at the Masters.
Winner: Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, left, shakes hands with Patrick Reed after his victory at the Masters.
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RORY MCILROY suffered more Masters misery as Patrick Reed held off the challenge of Ryder Cup team-mates Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to claim his first major title in Augusta.

Reed carded a final round of 71 at Augusta National to finish 15 under par and a shot ahead of Fowler, with 2015 champion Spieth another stroke back after an astonishing challenge faltered at the last.

Spieth had rallied from nine shots behind at the start of the day to claim a share of the lead with his ninth birdie of the day on the 16th, setting up the chance to equal the course record of 63 or even match the major championship mark of 62.

But a terrible drive on the 18th for the second time this week led to a crucial bogey and more Augusta demons, after he squandered a five-shot lead with nine to play in 2016 in defence of his title.

Fowler looked out of contention after playing the first seven holes in one over par, but birdied six of the last 11 - including the last - to keep the pressure on Reed, who held his nerve in admirable fashion.

Seeking the win he needs to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam, McIlroy was just a shot off the lead after two holes but faded badly with a closing 74.

Although it was not the collapse of 2011, when he enjoyed a four-shot lead after 54 holes before crashing to a closing 80, the Northern Irishman can be forgiven for wondering if his place in history will remain elusive.

What many expected to be a battle between the final pair of Reed and McIlroy got off to a shaky start, with Reed’s drive finishing close to a tree to the left of the fairway and McIlroy hitting a wild drive to the right.

McIlroy was lucky to remain in bounds and even more fortunate to have a clean shot, the 28-year-old finding a greenside bunker with his approach and saving par.

Reed appeared to hit the tree on his backswing but also ended up in the same bunker as McIlroy, only to thin his third shot to the back of the green.

McIlroy looked like getting on level terms after a spectacular approach to the par-five second, but was unable to convert the eagle putt from four feet and that would prove to be as close as he would get to the lead.

A bogey on the third was cancelled out by a birdie on the fourth, but McIlroy also dropped shots at the fifth, eighth and 11th to effectively end his chances as Spieth charged through the field.

After racing to the turn in 31, a birdie on the 12th - where he took seven in the final round in 2016 - was followed by another on the 13th after a stunning approach from the pine straw set up an eagle chance from 12 feet.

The gap was down to one when Reed found trouble off the tee on the 11th and missed from five feet for par, with Spieth making birdie on the 15th moments after Reed birdied the 12th.

Reed enjoyed an enormous stroke of luck when his approach to the 13th came up short, but plugged in the bank of Rae’s Creek instead of rolling back into the water.

But he was unable to take full advantage and make birdie after an enormous roar from the 16th indicated that Spieth had done precisely that.

However, Reed reclaimed the lead with a birdie from close range on the 14th before Spieth’s drive on the 18th clattered into the trees and failed to even reach the fairway.

The 24-year-old was faced with a second shot of more than 260 yards and after hitting a three wood up the fairway and pitching to eight feet, missed the crucial par putt.

Speaking during the presentation ceremony in the Butler Cabin, Reed said: “It’s almost impossible to put it into words, just to make the putt on the last and know that I have won my first major and ending the drought of not winning last year.

“One of my huge goals this year was to get back in the winner’s circle and to do that in the first major of the year means so much to me.

“I knew it was going to be tough, that the lead was going to shrink at times and it could grow and the only way I was going to get that done was to make sure the putter was working.”

Spieth told CBS: “I did not look at one (score) board. The only time I knew where I stood was after 18. I knew the putt was important, every shot was important coming down the stretch.

“Obviously I’m gutted with the finish. I hit a tee shot that was not that bad, just caught the last branch of that tree.

“I’d like to go back to that tee shot but I certainly would have signed for it (a 64) if you asked me at the start of the day.”

Collated final round scores & totals (USA unless stated, par 72, (a) denotes amateurs):

273 Patrick Reed 69 66 67 71

274 Rickie Fowler 70 72 65 67

275 Jordan Spieth 66 74 71 64

277 Jon Rahm (Spa) 75 68 65 69

279 Rory McIlroy (Nirl) 69 71 65 74, Cameron Smith (Aus) 71 72 70 66, Bubba

Watson 73 69 68 69, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 70 70 70

280 Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 67 73 70

281 Dustin Johnson 73 68 71 69, Tony Finau 68 74 73 66

282 Charley Hoffman 69 73 73 67, Justin Rose (Eng) 72 70 71 69, Louis

Oosthuizen (Rsa) 71 71 71 69

283 Russell Henley 73 72 71 67, Paul Casey (Eng) 74 75 69 65

284 Justin Thomas 74 67 70 73, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 72 72 66 74

285 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 73 71 72 69

286 Jason Day (Aus) 75 71 69 71, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 72 74 70 70, Jimmy

Walker 73 71 71 71, Webb Simpson 76 73 70 67

287 Branden Grace (Rsa) 73 73 74 67, Adam Hadwin (Can) 69 75 72 71, Bernd

Wiesberger (Aut) 70 73 72 72, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 75 73 68 71

288 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 71 74 71 72, Matt Kuchar 68 75 72 73, Kevin Kisner 72

75 69 72, Ryan Moore 74 72 72 70

289 Haotong Li (Chn) 69 76 72 72, Daniel Berger 73 74 71 71, Tiger Woods 73 75

72 69, Adam Scott (Aus) 75 73 70 71

290 Phil Mickelson 70 79 74 67, Zach Johnson 70 74 74 72

291 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 74 74 71 72, Bryson DeChambeau 74 74 72 71, Jhonattan

Vegas (Ven) 77 69 72 73, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 69 76 74 72, Matthew

Fitzpatrick (Eng) 75 74 67 75, Fred Couples 72 74 73 72

292 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 79 70 72 71, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 74 75 73 70,

Ian Poulter (Eng) 74 75 74 69, Brian Harman 73 74 76 69

294 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 74 73 74 73

295 Vijay Singh (Fij) 71 74 79 71

296 Xander Schauffele 71 78 72 75, Doug Ghim (a) 72 76 74 74

297 Kyle Stanley 72 74 75 76

298 Chez Reavie 76 71 75 76