Patrick Reed wins the 2018 Masters
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AUGUSTA, Ga. — The tepid applause that greeted Patrick Reed on the first tee Sunday made it clear he wasn’t the people’s choice.
All he cared about, though, was being the Masters champion.
Reed turned back an early move by Rory McIlroy and a late charge by Rickie Fowler. Most daunting in the middle of the final round was a familiar name at Augusta National — 2015 champion Jordan Spieth — on the verge of the greatest comeback in Masters history.
Reed had the game and the grit to beat them all. And when he slipped on the green jacket, he had everyone’s respect.
‘‘I knew it was going to be a dogfight,’’ Reed said. ‘‘It’s just a way of 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 already had proved that while playing for his country in the Ryder Cup. On Sunday, he did it for himself.
The final test was a 25-foot putt down a scary slope on the 18th green, with Reed begging the ball to stop as it rolled three feet past the cup. From there, he calmly rolled in the par putt for a 1-under-par 71 to edge Fowler by one shot and Spieth by two.
Known as ‘‘Captain America’’ for his play in the Ryder Cup, Reed added a far more important title: Masters champion.
The loudest cheers were for everyone else, and Reed picked up on that right away. The crowd was squarely behind McIlroy and his best chance yet at completing the career Grand Slam. Then it was behind Spieth, who ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to challenge the course record. The loudest cheer was for Fowler, who made an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th to move only a shot behind.
Through it all, Reed never flinched.
‘‘I just went out there and just tried to play golf the best I could and tried to stay in the moment and not worry about everything else,’’ said Reed, who completed 72 holes at 15-under 273.
Until Sunday, Reed was best known for the trophies he shared at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. He is a ferocious competitor in match play, especially the team variety, and his singles victory against McIlroy in the 2016 Ryder Cup led to his nickname.
‘‘He’s not scared,’’ said Fowler, who closed with a 5-under 67. ‘‘I think you guys have seen that previous from the Ryder Cups and the way he plays. He won’t back down. I don’t necessarily see him as someone that backs up and will let you come back into the tournament. You have to go catch him.’’
Spieth put up the most unlikely fight and was on the verge of the greatest comeback in Masters history. He started the round nine shots behind and made nine birdies before bogeying the 18th for an 8-under 64, one stroke from tying the course record.
‘‘I think I’ve proven to myself and to others that you never give up,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘I came out with the idea of just playing the golf course and having a lot of fun doing it and trying to shoot a low round and finishing the tournament strong and seeing . . . if something crazy happens.’’
McIlroy, meanwhile, will have to wait another year for a shot at the career Grand Slam. Trailing by three shots at the start of the round, he was within one after two holes. But McIlroy’s putter betrayed him, and he was never a factor on the back nine. He closed with a 2-over 74 and finished tied for fifth.
‘‘Tough day, but I’ll be back,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘And hopefully I’ll be better.’’
Tiger Woods closed with a 3-under 69 to finish 1 over, and Arlington Heights amateur Doug Ghim shot a 2-over 74 to wind up 8 over. Ghim was the only amateur to make the cut.