AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed wasn't perfect on Masters Sunday. But he was certainly good enough.
The day was billed as a match play event, essentially: Reed vs. Rory! As it turned out, Reed's greatest competition came from further down the leaderboard. But mostly, it came from his own game, which held up again and again to fend off his nearest challengers. Reed's round of one-under 71 left him at 15 under par, one shot clear of runner-up Rickie Fowler.
The round was no foregone conclusion. When Reed bogeyed the first hole, his three-shot lead became two. When McIlroy birdied the second hole, the lead shrank to one. But Reed responded with a birdie at No. 3.
Jon Rahm threatened, too, when he got to 10 under on the seventh hole as Reed bogeyed No. 6. But again Reed responded, this time with a birdie at 7.
The pattern repeated itself throughout the day. Challengers came from the pack to scare Reed, and Reed did just enough to keep his distance.
As McIlroy faded from view, two players rose toward the top. Jordan Spieth started the day nine shots off the lead, but when he drained a 33-foot birdie putt on No. 16, he had a share of the lead. But Reed responded with a birdie at No. 14, and Spieth bogeyed 18 to fall away.
Finally there was Fowler, who began the day five shots off the lead but rallied with birdies at 9, 10, 13, 15, and 18 to post the clubhouse lead at 14 under par.
But as Fowler finished up, Reed responded again, draining a clutch five-footer for par at No. 17 and drilling his tee shot down the left side of the fairway. From there, it was just a two-putt par to cement the biggest moment of his professional career.