The Punter's De-Brief: Rock-solid Reed holds firm as Rory relents

Patrick reed on 18 yesterday
Patrick Reed moments after winning the 82nd US Masters
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Patrick Reed has won the 82nd edition of the US Masters and our man's analysed it all with his customary recap here...

"Reed became the fourth American in-a-row aged 27 or below to win a major championship, so at 27 he was below the average age of a US Masters winner of 32.5 but he continued the fantastic run of first time major winners. Spieth was winning his third biggy when he won the Open Championship last July but nine of the last ten majors have gone the way of a first-timer."

With Patrick Reed three clear of Rory McIlroy and five clear of Rickie Fowler in third, there was a distinct possibility that Sunday at the Masters could have turned into something of a damp squib. Reed had been impeccable for three days and had he continued in the same vein he'd have just pulled away and won with ease. And there were many that believed Rory's time had arrived and that the Irishman was due to overcome Reed with ease and claim the career Grand Slam. Neither of those things happened and yet again, we got to enjoy a simply sensational Sunday at Augusta.

Both Reed and Rory started sloppily on the first. Reed hit his tee-shot left and close to a tree and Rory hit his way right and deep in the trees. Reed bumbled his way to a bogey five but Rory managed par and when the Irishman hit a magnificent second shot on the par five second to four feet, he looked certain to make eagle to tie the lead. They'd flip-flopped in the market and Rory hit a low of [1.75] but he missed the putt and ten minutes later the three-stroke Reed lead was reinstated at the third as Rory bogeyed and Reed birdied.

As the two leaders traded blows, Jordan Spieth was constructing one of the best final rounds in Augusta history. Birdies at one and two were followed by another at the tough par four fifth and then he went on a terrific run from the eighth, birdying six of the next nine holes to get to nine-under-par with just two holes to play.

Rory birdied the troublesome par three fourth but that was as good as it got. He played the last 14 holes in three-over-par and it was left to Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm to put the heat on Reed, and they didn't disappoint. Spieth, who had already hit a low of [2.66] as early as Thursday evening, dipped below that and hit [2.6], Rahm was matched at just [6.2] and Fowler traded all the way down to [3.05].

Spieth bogeyed the 18th to put pay to has chances but Fowler birdied it to keep the pressure on Reed. Having hit a fabulous approach to birdie the 14th, Reed parred 15 and 16 and he was a little fortunate to hit the hole with his first putt on 17 before holing out for par. He maintained his composure brilliantly under the circumstances and parred the last from four feet to win by one.

With family unrest, cheating and stealing allegations and a brash, bullish, confident manner, Reed isn't everyone's cup of tea and somewhat strangely, the American crowd were pulling for the Irishman more than they were the Texan yesterday, but it's impossible not to admire his rise to the top and his incredible fighting spirit.

I've followed Reed's progress closely, ever since he Monday qualified for five PGA Tour events in 2012 to earn enough cash to get his card. That really took some doing so he clearly had a big future and I backed him umpteen times at massive prices, waiting for that inevitable breakthrough. It came eventually at the Wyndham Championship but I was on holiday abroad at the time and it still irritates me that I missed it! Only eight months later he was winning the WGC-Cadillac and declaring himself as a top-five player.

My Bets

It's been a typically busy week but it's been profitable one and mainly thanks to Reed, who, as highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I backed after the opening round at [32.0].

Did Reed Fit the Trends

Patrick's course form coming in to the event was poor, reading MC-22-49-MC and he was the first winner since Tiger Woods in 1997 to have missed the cut the previous year.

Up until 2015, 23 of the previous 24 winners had all previously shot a round in the 60s at Augusta but maybe we should forget all about that stat now. Following Spieth in 2015, Danny Willett in 2016, and now Reed, three of the last four winners had failed to break 70 before they won.

Reed became the fourth American in-a-row aged 27 or below to win a major championship, so at 27 he was below the average age of a US Masters winner of 32.5 but he continued the fantastic run of first-time major winners. Spieth was winning his third biggy when he won the Open Championship last July but nine of the last ten majors have gone the way of a first-timer.

His course form and age may have been against him, but he fitted a few trends perfectly. Unlike the previous four winners, he hadn't won prior to the Masters but having finished runner-up at the Valspar, seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and having progressed out of the group stage at the WGC-Match Play, his current form was hot.

It's a shame we don't still visit Doral because he's yet another to win there (2014), or go very close there, and win at Augusta so that remains a good angle in and he's the latest Augusta winner to play the long holes well and to start fast. Reed parred the four par fives yesterday but he still topped the Par 5 Scoring stats for the week at -13, with Spieth, who finished third, playing them in 12-under-par, and like many a Masters winner before him, he was in the van throughout.

Spieth, who had lead after the first round, and Rahm, who had trailed by nine after round one, very nearly upset the in-running trends but in the end, having sat tied for fourth after round one, Reed was never headed from halfway.

He was the first winner in eight years to be drawn in the morning on day one but he teed off late in the morning at 11:15 and he was one of only a few early starters to thrive on Thursday. I haven't been able to ascertain to the AM/PM split as yet but I'll be amazed if the afternoon starters didn't far best on both days. An early start on Thursday can probably be viewed as a negative.

I'd love to go on and dissect the performances of both Fowler and McIlroy but that'll have to wait for another day, we've got two nice events to look forward to and research needs to be finished. I'll be back tomorrow and possibly as late as Wednesday, with my Open de Espana and RBC Heritage previews.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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