Last year’s Masters victory by Patrick Reed may not have been the most well-received conclusion in the
tournament’s 80-plus year history, but it was certainly one of the most well-earned.
At various stages during Sunday’s final round, Reed was challenged by three of golf’s highest profile
performers, each of whom would have been a much more popular champion.
Even though Reed led the Augusta State golf team to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2010 and
’11, challengers Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler all would have been preferred as
champions by the Masters patrons.
Reed has been a true lone wolf in golf dating back to his days as a junior in his native state of Texas. His
three years as a college golfer are known as much for his dismissal as a freshman from Georgia and his
problems with teammates in both Athens and Augusta as his accomplishments, which made him
arguably the most consequential golfer in collegiate history.
Since turning pro immediately after his junior season at Augusta State, Reed has mostly avoided the
negative headlines that accompanied his college career. But he drew some unfavorable reaction to
comments he made about his standing in the game after scoring his third PGA Tour win early in his
second season, along with criticism for his post-2018 Ryder Cup observations.
He has rebuffed all efforts to get him to acknowledge his alleged misdeeds in Athens and the animosity
between him and his Augusta teammates. But the quality of his play as a pro, particularly his efforts in
his first two Ryder and Presidents Cup, has been the most prominent topic of discussion about Reed in
Still, the stories from his college days in Athens and Augusta and his estrangement from his family, who
live in Augusta, continue to circulate, and were rehashed in some of the articles written during and after
his triumph at Augusta National.
Since his days as a junior golfer, when he played in long pants in the Texas heat to prepare himself for
his future life on the PGA Tour, Reed has had a single-minded approach to his path to success, and that
single-mindedness produced a memorable Masters victory last year.
Reed did not come into the 2018 Masters as one of the more obvious favorites, a result of his
undistinguished if relatively brief history at Augusta National and the more than 18 months since his last
PGA Tour victory.
A tie for second in the 2017 PGA Championship was his best finish in a major prior to his Masters victory,
but his bid for a first major ended with a bogey on the 72 nd hole, the same as an opportunity in Tampa
shortly before his breakthrough in Augusta.
Reed had played poorly on Sunday the last two times he held a 54-hole lead, dropping out of the top 10
on both occasions, and had ample opportunity to let another lead slip away in Augusta.
He was paired in the final group with McIlroy, who was a short eagle putt on the second hole from
erasing Reed’s 3-shot lead almost before the final round got under way. Reed was shaky from the outset
Sunday, hitting his opening drive near a tree left of the first fairway, resulting in a pitch out and a bogey.
His lead was reduced from three to one as he stood on the third tee, but he left the hole with his 3-
stroke lead restored when he holed a birdie putt from the back fringe and McIlroy bogeyed.
A birdie at the difficult par-3 fourth pulled McIlroy within two. But he missed a short par putt at the fifth,
and after a tap-in birdie by Reed at the seventh and a sloppy McIlroy bogey at the eighth, Rory was no
factor the rest of the way. He wound up in a disappointing tie for fifth and will return to Augusta next
week still needing a green jacket to complete the career Grand Slam.
With no player other than McIlroy closer than five shots to the 54-hole lead, all Reed needed to do to
win was hang around par on Sunday, barring a furious finish by one of his distant challengers.
The only player to mount much of an early Sunday surge was Spieth, who was contending for the fifth
straight year in the Masters. Neither of the last two tournaments in Augusta ended well for Spieth after
his record-tying victory in 2015, and he came close to matching another Masters record Sunday and
possibly shattering others.
Spieth began the final round nine shots behind Reed, but shot 5-under 31 on the front nine with back-
to-back birdies at the first two and last holes on the nine. Spieth could have matched the front nine
record of 30, but missed a short birdie putt on the seventh. He continued his birdie blitz at his nemesis
hole, the par-3 12 th , and pulled into a tie with Reed after birdies at 13, 15 and 16.
His birdie at the 13 th could have just as easily been an eagle, but Spieth more than made up or that miss
by holing a bomb on the 16 th that pulled him even with Reed at 14-under.
But Reed, who had bogeyed the 11 th after an errant tee shot, matched Spieth’s birdie at the 12 th to
regain the lead. With two par 5s ahead of him, he seemed back in control of the tournament despite
Spieth’s spirited surge.
Reed got a much-needed break at 13 when his second shot came up a little short, but stuck on the bank
above Rae’s Creek, which had been softened a bit by rain on Saturday. He failed to birdie the hole, but
again came right back with a clutch birdie putt at the 14 th to take the lead for good.
Spieth needed a par on the 18 th to tie the course record of 63, but for the second time in the
tournament, clipped tree branches left of the 18th fairway to erase any chance of a record-setting
birdie. He gave himself a chance for a par, but missed an 8-footer, settling for a 64.
With Spieth all but eliminated as a contender, Fowler emerged as the last challenger to Reed. After
playing his first seven holes in 1-over, Fowler was six off Reed’s lead after beginning the day five back.
Birdies at 8 and 9 kept Fowler within range, and two more at 12 and 13 got him within two of the leader.
After a birdie at the 15 th , Fowler needed one more to put some pressure on Reed, and got it after a
beautiful approach to the 18 th . His sixth birdie over the final 11 holes gave Fowler a 67 and the
clubhouse lead at 14-under, one ahead of Spieth but still one behind Reed, who almost locked up his
victory when he hit the hole with his birdie try from all the way across the 17 th green.
Needing a par on the 18 th to win, Reed hit his approach beyond the front pin just onto a ledge that made
for an exceedingly fast downhill birdie putt. He left himself about three feet for par and holed the putt
for the victory, which was greeted with a mostly muffled response, considerably less demonstrative than
greeted the late birdie cheers for Spieth and Fowler.
Spieth led by two after an opening 66, two in front of Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau, who hobbled around
on a damaged ankle and finished the tournament in a heroic tie for 10 th . Consecutive birdies at 13, 14
and 15 gave Reed a 69 and a tie for fourth.
Reed took the 36-hole lead at 135 after nine birdies, including another run of three in a row. His 66 was
the low round of the day and put him two ahead of Marc Leishman and four in front of Henrik Stenson.
McIlroy and Spieth were tied for fourth at 140.
Eagles on both back nine par-5s Saturday gave Reed a 67 and a 54-hole total of 202, with McIlroy,
Fowler and Jon Rahm all firing scores of 65 to try and close the gap. Rahm wound up fourth at 277 after
a final round 69. McIlroy tied for fifth at 279 with Stenson, Bubba Watson and Australian Cameron
Smith, with fellow Aussie Leishman ninth at 280. Finau birdied six straight holes on the back nine for a
66 to tie Dustin Johnson for 10 th at 281.
Prior to last year’s Masters, Reed was best known to most golf fans for his play in the Ryder Cup and
Presidents Cup, where he was half of an almost unbeatable team with Spieth. The two went 8-1-3 over
four years in the two cups, with Reed 2-1-1 in singles, including a memorable win over McIlroy in the
American Ryder Cup victory in 2016.
But Reed, who acquired the nickname of Captain America thanks to his play in the two team events, was
seriously displeased at last year’s Ryder Cup when Spieth terminated their partnership to team up with
good friend Justin Thomas.
While Speith and Thomas went 3-1 as a team (all the other U.S. teams in match play were 3-9), Reed
was paired with Tiger Woods, with the two losing twice in alternate shot matches thanks to a pair of
embarrassing late collapses, losing nine of their last 11 holes.
After an extremely poor showing in his second match, Reed was benched for the final session of team
play, but managed to win impressively in singles, one of just four Americans to do so. After the
matches, an aggrieved Reed vented about his former partner, captain Jim Furyk and the whole Ryder
Things have calmed down since, but it is unlikely that Spieth and Reed are going to resume their
partnership. While Spieth went 3-1 in last year’s Ryder Cup without Reed in team matches, Reed is 0-4
without Spieth, losing twice in the 2015 Presidents Cup before he and Spieth were reunited in the final
Amid last year’s Ryder Cup turmoil, Reed raised his singles record in Cup play to 3-1-1, which pales next
to his performance in match play in college.
Reed went 6-0 in his two seasons in Augusta, leading the Jaguars to consecutive NCAA Championships.
Reed’s list of victims included current PGA Tour members Peter Uihlein of Oklahoma State (twice),
Florida State’s Brooks Koepka, Georgia Tech’s Chesson Hadley and Georgia’s Harris English in the match
that decided the 2011 championship. He also reached the semifinals in the 2008 U.S. Amateur prior to
his enrollment at UGA.
The first time Reed attracted attention as a pro came in 2012, when he successfully Monday qualified six
times for PGA Tour events and played in a total of 12 tournaments, making seven cuts with four top-25
finishes. He earned his PGA Tour card for 2013 at Q-school, and has been a top player since his rookie
season, which was highlighted by a playoff win in Greensboro over Spieth.
Reed ended his rookie season 22 nd in the FedExCup standings, but failed to qualify for the Tour
Championship, the only time he has not been in the field at East Lake. He ended the regular season in
the top 10 each of the next three years and wound up third in the final standings in 2016 after a Playoffs
victory in New York.
Since claiming his green jacket, Reed has done little on the course other than a fourth place finish in last
year’s U.S. Open, and does not have a top-10 finish in 2018-19 since the WGC event in China last