Masters 2018 Final Day
What a weekend of golf.
The highs and lows of the Masters weekend provided golf fans with the excitement they'd been relishing in the lead up. No, Sunday didn't feature a titanic battle with golfing greats Woods and Mickelson as so many wanted. Instead, it was the next generation that put on an exhibition of how to play Augusta with the knowledge that the whole golf world was watching.
Coming into today with a handy lead, all eyes were on Patrick Reed early on to see how he'd cope with the pressure. Big name chasers like McIlroy and Stenson were well set to challenge hard for the green jacket.
But it was Jordan Spieth, from an incredible nine shots back, who had the crowd utterly captivated. Seemingly evading any sense of occasion, the Texan cruised around Augusta almost striking birdies at will. Many thought he was out of the picture in the morning, but five under on the front nine and all 200,000 spectators present took notice.
Each successive birdie was greeted with a larger roar. A 15 foot birdie putt on the 16th drew cheers from the immediate crowd and a echoing explosion around the course as he drew for the lead on the scoreboards. The game was well and truly on.
A fizzer on the 18th drew the Spieth show to an apparent close. His poor tee shot left him in a horrible lie for his second stroke, and the final hole bogey eased the strangling pressure he was applying to the leading group three holes back. From here, it was Rickie Fowler's turn to challenge.
Fowler didn't have the fastest start to the day, but with birdies on the 12th, 13th and 15th, he was picking up late momentum. Cool as a cat, Rickie barely flinched or even fist pumped after each of those clinical shots. An additional birdie chance on the 17th almost had him within one stroke of the lead. What could he muster on Augusta's famous last hole?
He produced for the many watching, managing a birdie, shutting the window ever so slightly. Reed would need to par for victory.
Whatever may be said of Patrick Reed, none can doubt the strength of his mental fortitude. His non-athletic appearance is the visual antithesis of popular superstars Spieth and Fowler, who seem at home gracefully striding amongst the azaleas. He lacks the silky swing of an Adam Scott, or the putting prowess and energy of Woods.
But prevail he did. In truth, the one stroke margin belied a closer race than what could have been. A long putt on the 15th bounced out of the hole for Reed; another birdie putt on the final hole missed narrowly. Upon sinking the final winning putt, he raised his arms and embraced his caddy in an understated and modest celebration. His game was consistently strong for all four days - the requirement for a deserving Masters victory.
In contrast to the great play of the lead three, disappointment struck a few. McIlroy felt the weight of expectation trying to achieve his grand slam, finishing two over for today. Young Spaniard Rahm had a great run early but allowed frustration to creep into his game on the final few holes.
All in all, what a weekend of golf.