By Nicola Kenton

  • Patrick Reed wins 2018 US Masters with a score of fifteen-under-par
  • Fellow Americans Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler had closed in on the final round
  • Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is best placed Brit finishing tied fifth on nine-under-par
AUGUSTA NATIONAL, UNITED STATES – Patrick Reed won his first major, winning the 2018 US Masters by one shot ahead of Rickie Fowler with Rory McIlroy the best placed of the home nations’ golfers.

 

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First major success for Reed

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Patrick Reed won his first major title on the greens of Augusta National last weekend. The 27-year-old produced some stunning golf on day three to ensure that he went into Sunday as the favourite. Reed managed to hold his nerve and produce a one-under par round to record a total of -15 and win the first major of the year by one shot ahead of compatriot Rickie Fowler.

Reed was partnered with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the final round but it was not the dominant golf from the day before, that many expected. Instead, both players played wayward shots and saved pars but neither was consistent in their game – a splattering of birdies and bogeys. Reed, however, never allowed McIlroy to encroach on his lead. The one chance the Northern Irishman had to close the gap was wasted, as he missed an eagle opportunity and Reed regained his three-shot advantage.

In the closing stages, it was not his playing partner but instead compatriots Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth who were breathing down Reed’s neck. Yet the American kept his cool to stay ahead of the pair and secure his first Green Jacket. In the past twelve years there have been nine first-time major winners, including Reed, and the Americans are dominating the major scene with Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas holding the other three major titles.

 

Spieth shows Augusta is still his friend despite 2016

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Spieth broke through as the up-and-coming golfer in 2015 when he won the US Masters, US Open, tied fourth at the Open Championship and finished second at the US PGA. Heading into the final day of 2016, the Texan was once again in contention at the Masters but it all went wrong as he found the water and dropped a number of shots to allow Danny Willett to take the title.

At the 2017 tournament Spieth finished tied eleventh – his lowest placing on the leaderboard – as Sergio Garcia claimed his first Green Jacket. This year’s tournament has proved that Spieth still knows how to get the best out of himself and the Augusta National greens. On the first day, the 24-year-old carded a six-under-round and despite not having the rub of the green in rounds two and three, he remained in contention.

Spieth began the day nine shots behind Reed and started his charge early with birdies on the first two holes, by the time he had reached the halfway point he was five-under-par for the day. The Texan continued his impressive form with birdies on the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th leaving him with the opportunity to equal the course record but Spieth could not manage it. The 2015 champion carded a bogey on the last to record the clubhouse lead of thirteen-under-par. It was not enough but proved that even when the American is not on his best form, he can find something extra on the final round at Augusta.

 

Fowler the bridesmaid once again

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In addition to Spieth making a final day charge, Fowler also served up some outstanding golf to make the final few holes of this year’s Masters fascinating. Fowler began the day five shots behind leader and compatriot Reed.

The Oklahoma State alumni was wearing his traditional orange for the final round and remained in contention shooting one bogey and two birdies on the first nine holes. Similarly to Spieth, Fowler birdied the 12th, 13th and 15th but in comparison, he also birdied the final hole to set the new clubhouse lead of fourteen-under-par. Nevertheless it was not enough for Fowler to score his first major title, as the honour went to Reed.

However, this was a positive result for the world number nine who has shown that he can contend in a major once again. Since his stellar record of 2014, where he finished in the top five at all four majors, it has not all gone to plan with Fowler missing cuts in 2015 and 2016. There was an improvement in 2017 as he tied fifth at the US Open and US PGA. 2018 is now his best finish at the Masters and it could be time for the 29-year-old to finally win his first major.

McIlroy fades on final Sunday

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It was not a good day for Northern Ireland’s McIlroy who fell down the leaderboard on the final day carding a two-over-par to finish the tournament on -9 and tied for fifth place. Having recently won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy had regained confidence and put himself in contention after shooting a 65 on the third day to secure his place in the final group on Sunday but Reed proved too strong.

Sunday was a day of missed opportunities, as the Northern Irishman squandered an eagle chance and was left ruing those opportunities. The eagle miss, and a chance to be co-leader, had a knock-on effect as Reed then restored his three-shot advantage instantly. Inconsistency showed with a pattern of birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey on holes two to five followed by three more bogeys later on meant that the 28-year-old dropped further down the leaderboard.

Augusta has not been fruitful for McIlroy, although he does consistently play well there having finished in the top 10 five times and been in the final group twice. However, for him to complete the career Grand Slam, he needs to be able to put all four rounds together and be clinical in his approach.

Speaking to the BBC, McIlroy said: “For the last four years I’ve had top 10s but I haven’t been close enough to the lead. (On Sunday) I got myself there, I didn’t quite do enough but I’ll come back next year and try again. I played probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played here, it just wasn’t meant to be. Of course it’s frustrating and it’s hard to take any positives from it right now, but at least I put myself in a position, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.”

Casey puts on late showing

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The other Brits in the field had mixed tournaments but it was Paul Casey who showed glimpses of the spectacular on the final day. Justin Rose was the highest placed Englishman at six-under-par closely followed by Casey on -5 but it was a week where the putter was not hot for Rose. He recorded a respectable three-under-par in his final round, which included six birdies to secure another top 20 finish.

Tommy Fleetwood had an excellent followed by an ordinary day on the weekend, as the 27-year-old carded a 66 on day three but could not follow it up and finished with a two-over-par round on Sunday. It was a disappointing finish for the Race to Dubai champion who had hauled himself into a good position but could not reproduce the same form. Fleetwood finished on -4 and tied for seventeenth.

It was the Valspar champion who had one of the most enthralling rounds on the final day. Spieth was not the only player to get close to the course record, as Casey found a hot streak. The opening nine holes saw three birdies for the Englishman but it was holes to eleven where the 40-year-old came into his own. He shot two birdies, followed by an eagle and another two birdies to reach nine-under-par for the round; however, Casey could not maintain his form and bogeyed the final two holes to finish the tournament on five-under-par.

The PGA and European Tour continues with the US Open the next major to be contested on 14th-17th June.

 

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