AUGUSTA, Ga. – Never one to back down from a fight, Patrick Reed sure had one on his hands Sunday in the final round of the 82nd Masters.
The hero of the 2016 Ryder Cup took some mighty blows from Augusta National Golf Club but never went down – he is Captain America, after all – and now has a green jacket to drape over his red, white and blue cape.
Armed with a three-shot lead after 54 holes, Reed, the fiery, confrontational raging bull, channeled his emotions, held his nerve and called upon his considerable golf skills to withstand a host of the game’s best players on a tense, wild Masters Sunday that had the staff handling the famous white scoreboards working overtime.
The clinching putt.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 8, 2018
“To win your first major is never going to be easy,” said Reed, who had never broken 70 in his previous four starts in the Masters. “It definitely wasn’t easy today. I knew it was going to be a dogfight.
“It’s just God basically saying, ‘Let’s see if you have it.’ Everyone knows you have it physically with the talent, but do you have it mentally? Can you handle the ups and downs throughout the round?”
He did just that with a final-round 1-under-par 71, holding off challenges from Rickie Fowler, Ryder Cup rival Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup partner Jordan Spieth to win his first major title in 17 attempts. With a huge birdie from eight feet on the 14th and gut-check pars on 13, 15, 17 and 18 – the last a four-foot par save to conclude matters – Reed finished with rounds of 69-66-67-71 to end at 15-under 273.
Reed wound up one clear of Fowler, who shot 65-67 on the weekend but came up short in his bid to win his first major, while Spieth, who delivered the biggest charge with a 64 that included a last-hole bogey, wound up two back.
“Patrick, he’s not scared,” said Fowler, who since 2013 has eight top-10s in majors, the most without a victory. “He’s not scared on the golf course. He’ll play aggressive. He’ll play his game. He won’t back down.
“Gave it our all, left it all out there. Made P. Reed earn it.”
Jon Rahm shot 69 to finish four back. McIlroy, trying to complete the career Grand Slam, added to his star-crossed Masters history with a final-round 74 and tied for fifth.
Reed got off to a shaky start with an opening bogey but settled down when he canned a 15-footer for birdie on the third hole – “I needed that,” he said – and added another red number at the seventh when he stuffed his second shot from 133 yards to a foot for another birdie.
By this time, the battle was joined by a few players, including Spieth, who kept pecking away at his deficit with one birdie after another. The 2015 Masters champ made seven birdies in his first 13 holes and finally caught Reed with the last of his nine on the 16th hole.
“I’m kind of glad he ran out of holes,” Reed said.
Reed, however, never lost at least a share of the lead and made birdie on the 12th from 22 feet – his first birdie on the devilish par-3 hole.
Then fortune shined on him when his approach to the par-5 13th from 186 yards stayed on the bank fronting the green instead of rolling into Rae’s Creek and Reed made par.
He regained the lead with a birdie on the 14th from eight feet and then two-putted from 75 feet on the 17th for par and two-putted from 25 feet on the 18th to win the green jacket, his sixth PGA Tour title and $1.98 million.
“Everybody really likes battling Patrick, because he loves it so much and eats it up,” said Spieth, who has a win, two seconds and a third in five Masters starts.
“My only wish or regret from the week was that I was playing with him at some point on the weekend. But he’s a member of the Masters club now, he’ll have a green jacket forever. His name is etched in history.”
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Welcome to the Masters morning rundown, your one-stop shop to catch up on the action from Augusta National. Here’s everything you need to know for the morning of April 6.
Spieth sets the pace
What slump? Jordan Spieth racked up seven birdies—including five consecutive on the back—and an eagle on Thursday afternoon to take the Masters lead on Day 1.
It’s not so much that Spieth went low, but how. While he made the most of the 11 greens he hit—on the nine holes where a red number was recorded, six were spurred by approaches within 12 feet—Spieth chalked up two of his best shots to his putter. An eagle putt on the eighth and, of all things, a five-foot bogey putt on the seventh.
“It was a very difficult putt, and I could have dropped to over par,” Spieth said. “And it led to stepping on No. 8 tee feeling like, okay, regrouped, let’s grab three coming in.”
Given his early-season struggles have been attributed to the flat stick—he entered the week ranked 185th in strokes gained: putting—Spieth’s 1.33 putts per green mark was an auspicious sign, and to the rest of the field, a bad omen. It wasn’t a flawless round; he driver was problematic, and he did make three bogeys. As it was routinely pointed out, one good putting round does not erase three months of woe. But confidence breeds more confidence, and on a course that Spieth has made his de facto home, Spieth is brimming with it heading into Friday.
Finau’s “miraculous” 68
On Wednesday night, it appeared Tony Finau wouldn’t be able to tee it up in Round 1. Which made what transpired on Thursday all the more shocking. As night fell on Augusta National Thursday night, the 28-year-old finds himself near the top of the leader board.
Despite dislocating his ankle in celebration at the Par-3 Contest, Finau cobbled together a four-under 68, one of the best rounds on Day 1. The tour’s leader in driving distance still had plenty of oomph off the tee, and though his irons weren’t on (hitting just half of the greens in regulation) his putter was, with a field-best 1.28 putts per hole.
He did it with “quite a bit” of tape. And a hell of a lot of heart.
“It was nothing short of a miracle ,” Finau said.
This is Finau’s first appearance at the Masters, and as it’s been noted, this is a tournament not kind to newbies. Considering what he just accomplished on one ankle, taking down that history doesn’t seem too daunting.
Tiger’s so-so Round 1
The buzz never stopped for Tiger Woods’ first Masters round in three years. The problem was, Woods never got going, posting a one-over 73.
The 14-time major winner was able to make two birdies on the final five holes, yet his poor driving continues to rear its ugly head. This was especially evident on the par 5s, which have been the bane of his existence this season (101st in par 5 scoring), failing to make birdie on Augusta National’s long holes.
To his credit, Tiger was okay with his round, and feels like he’s in position to strike.
“Yes, I played in a major championship again, but also the fact that … I got myself back in this tournament, and I could have easily let it slip away,” he said. “I fought hard to get it back in there, and I’m back in this championship. It will be fun the next 54 holes.”
It will. The Masters always is. But Woods needs a solid Friday to make sure he’s part of that mix.
Sergio’s terrible, no good, very bad hole
Sergio Garcia came to Augusta National’s 15th hole at two over in his first round as reigning Masters champ. His score was decidedly higher when walking to the 16th tee. After hitting a 320-yard drive on the 15th, leaving 200 yards and change, the Spaniard’s approach went into the water. As did his fourth. And six. And eighth. And, you guessed it, 10th.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 5, 2018
However, the 12th found land, and the 38-year-old sunk the 10-footer. The final damage? An octuple-bogey 13.
“I don’t know,” Garcia responded when asked to explain the hole. “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s one of those things. I feel like—I don’t know, it’s the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot. Simple as that. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and unfortunately the ball just didn’t want to stop. I don’t know, you know, it’s one of those things. So it’s just unfortunate, but that’s what it is.”
The 13 tied for the highest score in Masters history, and the highest score on the 15th, “beating” the 11s of Masashi (Jumbo) Ozaki, Ben Crenshaw and Ignacio Garrido. To Garcia’s credit, he bounced back on the 16th with a birdie. But it’s safe to say he won’t be defending his crown.
Day’s suds-soaked shot
That Jason Day’s drive at the first went left is not a shock; that side is a common bailout for players on the opening tee. What makes Day’s shot unique is where his second landed: into a patron’s beer.
The 2015 PGA champ’s approach sailed to the right, clattered around the Georgia pines, hit a patron’s shoulder and landed in a libation. Told by an official that Day needed to identify his ball, the fan obliged, downing the drink to the amusement of his fellow patrons and Day.
Unfortunately for Day, he was unable to save par from the suds-soaked spot, walking away with a bogey. The rest of his front nine wasn’t much better, making the turn in 40 and finishing with a 75. But at least he had a story to cheers to after the round.
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By: Dan Kilbridge | March 18, 2018 9:53 pm
ORLANDO – Rory McIlroy’s homeland is known for its whiskey, but Arnold Palmer drank vodka. So the 28-year-old from Northern Ireland raised a clear glass following his post-round interviews at Bay Hill and gave a brief toast.
“To Arnie,” McIlroy said.
Not long before that, McIlroy downed a 25-foot putt to secure his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with an 18-under, 270 total for the week. He shot 8-under 64 in the final round and birdied five of his final six holes to top Bryson DeChambeau by three strokes and win for the first time since the 2016 Tour Championship.
“I wish (Palmer) would have been at the top of the hill to shake my hand when I came off the 18th green there,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully he’s proud of me with the way I played on the back nine and tried to be as aggressive as I could and tried to take on shots when I needed to, just like he would have.”
With recent wins from Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas, and Tiger Woods’ promising return, it seemed McIlroy was trying to prove a point, reminding everyone that he’s still very much in the mix with the Masters just three weeks away.
“Look, most of these guys are my friends, so I’m happy for them,” McIlroy said. “JT’s been on a tear the last 18 months. Phil, it was great for him to get the win in Mexico. Tiger coming back. I’m happy to answer those questions. I just hope they get some questions about me now.”
McIlroy began the day two shots behind 54-hole leader Henrik Stenson, who finished fourth at 13 under after shooting 1-under 71 in the final round. Justin Rose finished solo third at 14 under, and Woods was T-5 at 10 under.
Woods shot 3-under 69 and briefly got within one shot of the lead after a birdie at 13. But he faltered late with bogeys on two of his final three holes. That makes three consecutive top-12 finishes for Woods after a T-2 at the Valspar Championship and T-12 at the Honda Classic.
“If you would have (told) me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments, I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” Woods said.
McIlroy, Woods, Mickelson, Thomas – all of the big names seem to be peaking in mid-March to set up the most anticipated Masters in recent memory. Even two-time champion Bubba Watson won last month’s Genesis Open after a miserable 2017.
Here’s another reminder – McIlroy is the only one who can complete the career Grand Slam when he heads to Augusta National, with other current hopefuls Mickelson and Jordan Spieth having to wait for the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, respectively.
“I’m in a position where I can join that club and I would love to,” McIlroy said. “Golf’s in a great place. … I feel like it’s exciting times.”
Cheers to that. Gwk
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By: Dan Kilbridge | March 11, 2018 8:49 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Paul Casey.
Paul Casey won the Valspar Championship.
That was the answer to the question posed by the 50-something man riding a bicycle, circling the exterior of a massive fence that surrounds the players’ parking lot a short golf cart ride away from the first tee at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course.
“But Tiger finished second, right?”
The man was trying to get an autograph and catch a glimpse of Woods as he left the property, oblivious to the fact that Casey finished off a 6-under 65 nearly an hour prior to win for the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Shell Houston Open.
The man wasn’t alone, nor was he the only one fixated on Woods this week while 143 other guys quietly went about their business. Even the 40-year-old Englishman who shot 10-under 274 on the week said if he didn’t win, he was hoping to see Woods finish on top.
“We’ve been friends and competitors for a long, long time,” Casey said. “It’s the only time he’s congratulated me immediately after a victory. Normally it’s the other way around. That’s something special.”
The PGA Tour has produced back-to-back winners in their 40s. Phil Mickelson was victorious at last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship at age 47, and Woods, 42, finished T-2 at the Valspar alongside Patrick Reed at 9 under.
Young stars such as Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm dominated the landscape for much of 2017, but 2018 has had more variety with Woods’ resurgence and Mickelson’s steady play.
“It’s becoming a young man’s sport,” Casey said. “So it’s very rewarding to be able to go up against the young guys and still beat them and still compete with them.”
Reed shot 3-under 68 in the final round to finish T-2 but made bogey at 18 to miss forcing a playoff. Sergio Garcia matched Casey’s final-round 65 to finish alone in fourth, and Corey Conners, the 54-hole leader, shot 6-over 77 to finish T-16.
All of them were playing to modest-at-best crowds, because the fans go where Woods goes and they desperately wanted to witness the trademark Sunday magic when he began the final round firmly in the hunt.
Woods delivered with a theatrical 44-foot birdie putt at No. 17 to get within a shot of the lead, but he missed several significantly shorter birdie attempts in the prior 15 holes and wasn’t quite as sharp with his iron play. He shot 1-under 70 Sunday, his sixth consecutive round of par or better.
This was a huge week for Woods to test his new swing under final-round pressure and remember how it feels trying to close out a win, something he hasn’t done on Tour since 2013.
“I felt very comfortable,” Woods said. “I’ve been here (in this situation) before a few times. So I felt very comfortable. My game was quite solid this entire week. As a whole I feel very good about what I did this week.”
Woods heads to the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week at Bay Hill in Orlando, where he’s won eight times. His reputation and presence will transcend the tournament, as it were, just as it did at the Valspar. Perhaps more so now that everyone has seen a man who at least resembles the Woods of old.
Casey, a 13-time winner on the European Tour, is flying back to England after just his second career PGA Tour victory. He spoke about the buzz Woods brought to the tournament, the vintage roars he heard throughout the week and the quality golf he played for four consecutive rounds to finish on top.
“Probably not the most significant win of my career,” Casey said. “But it’s certainly one of the most satisfying ones.” Gwk
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