AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Sunday, April 8, 2018 | 4:15 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed became famous playing for his country. He won for himself on Sunday at the Masters.
Rory McIlroy came after him early. Jordan Spieth briefly tied him for the lead. Rickie Fowler birdied the last hole to leave him no room for error. Reed never flinched through it all on a raucous afternoon at Augusta National, calmly rolling in a 3-foot par putt for a 1-under 71 and a one-shot victory.
Captain America is now the Masters champion.
Even as the loudest cheers were for everyone else, Reed earned all the respect with two big birdie putts on the back nine, one key par and plenty of grit.
The 27-year-old Texan becomes the fourth straight Masters champion to win his first major.
Fowler holed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 67. He had to settle for his third runner-up finish in a major. He left the scoring cabin when Reed two-putted for par down the slippery slope on the 18th green and waited for a chance to greet Reed.
"Glad I at least made the last one, make him earn it," Fowler said with a grin.
"You had to do it didn't you?" Reed told him as they exchanged a hug. "You had to birdie the last."
Spieth put up the most unlikely fight and was on the verge of the greatest comeback in Masters history. He started nine shots behind going into the final round, and was inches away on two shots from a chance at another green jacket. His tee shot on the 18th clipped the last branch in his way, dropping his ball some 267 yards from the green. His 8-foot par putt for a record-tying 63 narrowly missed on the right. He had to settle for a 64.
Reed won for the sixth time in his PGA Tour career, though he was best known for the trophies he shared at the Ryder Cup. He is ferocious in match play, especially the team variety, and his singles victory over McIlroy at Hazeltine in 2016 led to the nickname of Captain America.
McIlroy, meanwhile, will have to wait another year for a shot at the career Grand Slam. Trailing by three shots to start the final round, he closed to within one shot after two holes. That was as close as he came. McIlroy's putter betrayed him, and he was never a factor on the back nine. He closed with a 74 and tied for fifth.