Patrick Reed held his nerve and held off Sunday charges by Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to win his first major championship at the Masters.
Reed, a 27-year-old Texan better known for his match-play performances at the Ryder Cup, shot a final-round 71 to finish with a 15-under 273.
It was one shot ahead of Fowler and two shots ahead of Spieth on a dramatic final day at Augusta National Golf Club.
The promised duel between Reed and his final-round playing partner, Rory McIlroy, never materialized.
But Spieth, the 2015 champion who started the day nine shots behind Reed, poured in nine birdies without a bogey on the first 17 holes to briefly tie his fellow Texan at 14-under.
But moments after Spieth curled in a 33-foot putt on the par-3 16th to tie for the lead, Reed moved ahead for good when he rolled in an 8-foot putt for birdie at the par-4 14th.
Any realistic chance of a Spieth victory vanished at the 18th hole after he hooked his tee shot into the trees down the left-hand side and was left to scramble his way onto the green.
Spieth’s eight-foot putt for par to remain at 14-under missed to the left, leaving him with perhaps the most bittersweet final-round 64 in the history of tournament golf.
Even as Spieth dropped away, Fowler — who began play five shots off the lead on Sunday — staged his own charge up the leaderboard, shooting a 32 on the back nine to complete a 67.
Fowler capped his round with a seven-foot birdie putt that prompted the loudest roar of the day among the patrons at the 18th green.
But Fowler, Spieth and everyone else could only watch as Reed parred the final four holes to secure his first green jacket. Fowler, who had to settle for his third runner-up finish in a major, 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.”
McIlroy, seeking the career Grand Slam, started the day at 11-under – three shots behind Reed – but struggled with the putter and staggered to a disappointing 74.
Not that McIlroy didn’t have chances; he missed a 4-foot eagle putt at the 2nd that would have tied him with Reed.
McIlroy then missed a five-footer for par at the 5th hole and watched helplessly as another potential par-saver – this time at the 8th – lipped out from seven feet away.
Jon Rahm, also seeking his first major title, shot a three-under 69 to finish in fourth place, four strokes behind Reed at 11-under par.
However, his championship hopes died at the par-5 15th when he hit his second shot into the water hazard.
McIlroy joined Cameron Smith (66), Bubba Watson (69) and Henrik Stenson (70) in a four-way tie for fifth at 9-under par.
Australian Marc Leishman shot a two-under 70 to finish alone in ninth at 8-under, while world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (69) finished in a tie for tenth with Tony Finau (66) at 7-under. (NAN)