Patrick Reed slipped himself into a Green Jacket at Augusta National to win his first major championship and did so in front of a crowd favouring grand slam-chasing Rory McIlroy.
The 29-year-old managed to knuckle down and throw together a one-under 71 alongside playing partner McIlroy, who wilted under the grand slam spotlight with a two-over 74.
Reed said he watched the Golf Channel in the morning, with all analysts except Notah Begay picking McIlroy to win.
“They all picked Rory - except Notah… you’re ma boy,” remarked Reed. “Nobody expects me to win and that took the pressure off me. It just fitted with my game plan.”
Despite a charge from America’s golden boy Jordan Spieth, who lit up Masters Sunday with a sparkling 64, Reed did enough to answer his critics.
Four years ago the American – dubbed Captain America after his Ryder Cup exploits - famously said he was “one of the top-five golfers in the world”, a claim mocked by many.
But he’s written himself into the history books at Augusta National.
“I stand by my comments,” said Reed. “I’ve never regretted anything I’ve said. I want to be the best golfer in the world.”
Reed got lucky on the back nine, with his ball at 13 staying up and not falling into Rae’s Creek, and his putt at 17 hitting the hole instead of rolling past the flag and possibly down the back of the green.
He said he expected a tough ride on the Sunday of a major and that he was fully aware about the charges from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler in front of him.
“I’m glad he ran out of holes,” he said in reference to Spieth’s stunning 64. “Today was hard mentally. But I knew no matter what they throw at me I could handle it. Having to shoot under par to win my first major was hard but to see a birdie go in early was huge for momentum.”
Fowler finished second for his highest ever Masters finish and his ninth top-ten in a major. His closing 67 was just one shy of forcing a sudden-death play-off.
“I put myself in a position where I still had a chance,” said Fowler. “I gave it my all and left it all out there. I made P Reed earn it. I hit a perfect shot into 17. The shot on 16 was a little left. It was nice to beat out Jordan for solo second.”
He said his run in the majors has been “fun” but hopes this year he can grab one for himself.
“There’s been a few majors where I’ve played well enough where my score would hold up if there wasn’t another guy. Maybe this is a year where I’ll get top fives again - but it’d be fun to throw in a trophy as well.”