Sunday at the Masters always promises a fireworks show unlike any other in golf. Each year, Augusta National confronts competitors with a perfect blend of risk and reward opportunities, making the course highly conducive to entertaining play. This year’s Masters certainly delivered in that respect, giving fans a show that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Entering Sunday’s final round, Patrick Reed held a three-stroke lead over his nearest competitor, Rory McIlroy. The dominant storyline going into the day was the possibility of the top two players on the leaderboard rehashing their Ryder Cup singles battle from 2016 at Hazeltine. However, McIlroy was out of sorts from the very start, as his first tee shot of the day landed right of Ronald Reagan. A disappointing 74 kept him well out of contention.
Somewhat surprisingly, Reed’s biggest challenges came from those originally thought to be effectively out the tournament. Jon Rahm, the 23-year-old Spaniard, began his round six shots behind Reed, but steadily made his way up the leaderboard all afternoon. After birdieing hole 14, he pulled to within two shots the leader. Unfortunately, his second shot into the 15th hole found a watery grave, dooming Rahm’s chances for his inaugural major championship victory.
Sitting eight shots behind Reed to start Sunday was Jordan Spieth. Few expected much out of Spieth, as his odds of winning were reduced to a measly 50/1 chance by Vegas sportsbooks. It’s apparent the young Texan bet on himself though because he nearly pulled off one of the game’s greatest comebacks in history. After Spieth made a ridiculously clutch putt for birdie on 16, he briefly found himself tied atop the leaderboard with Patrick Reed. Sadly, a bad break on 18 led to a bogey that sunk his chances, but Spieth’s final round 64 proved to everyone watching that his closet will likely contain more than a couple green jackets when all is said and done.
The man most expected to win this year’s Masters outside the final pairing was Rickie Fowler. The five shot deficit he faced going into the final round was clearly monumental, but by no means insurmountable. Surprisingly, Fowler got off to a very shaky start, playing his first seven holes +1. But Rickie then proceeded to birdie five of his next eight holes, and then capped off his round in style: two dazzling shots into the 18th hole and a putt rolled right into the heart of the cup for the closing birdie that put intense pressure on the leader.
Despite facing fierce challenges by three of the top players in the world all day, Patrick Reed rarely faltered on Sunday. His play was never particularly exciting or thrilling, but it was strong enough to get the job done. Reed is a player who has long maintained a robust self-confidence, but many golf pundits were curious to see how his brash persona would react to the pressure of attempting to close out a major. It’s now clear that underneath his confident exterior lies a rock-solid nervous system that has the capability to weather the internal storms associated with winning the Masters.
In the week leading up to the Masters every year, I like to always stop and remember that in just seven days time, somebody’s life will change forever. Patrick Reed woke up April 9th a totally different person than he was just 12 hours prior. No longer was he simply a Ryder Cup stalwart with a polarizing personality. Patrick Reed got out of bed that Monday morning a Masters champion.