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QUICK TAKE: Reflecting On The Masters

Jordan Spieth walks off the 18th green after shooting a 64 in the final round of the Masters. (Photo: Brian Snyder, Reuters)

It’s Patrick Reed’s turn to do the green jacket media tour, jetting off to the Empire State Building and television spots throughout New York City, hardly allowing him time to take a breath and think about what he accomplished with his Masters victory Sunday.

That will come soon enough and having the green jacket as a traveling companion is a nice addition.

For Reed, his victory at Augusta National was transformative, not necessarily as a player but in recasting him from a flag-waving, fist-pumping Ryder Cup star to a major champion who is delivering on his own sometimes cocky self belief.

For Reed, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, it was a Masters that mattered in ways big and small.

A few thoughts on what this Masters meant for each of them:

REED: The boast heard ‘round the golf world a few years ago – Reed’s assertion that he is a top-five player when he was just getting started – doesn’t sound so silly now.

If you’re drawing up a classic player, Reed doesn’t necessarily check the obvious boxes. He doesn’t have the prettiest swing. He drives it sideways once in a while and his game isn’t built on shock and awe.

But it’s built to deliver. He’s a brilliant chipper and an exceptional putter. The way he handled Augusta National’s greens was a testimony to his touch.

He also showed he can channel the emotion that boils up in the Ryder Cup and internalize it. Reed’s success is built on more than just hitting shots.

“I think it’s more attitude,” said Davis Love III, Reed’s Ryder Cup captain in 2016. “He’s passionate about competing all the time. He doesn’t leave anything to chance and he works hard off the course to be prepared. He kind of sneaks up on you a bit.”

SPIETH: Did a lone pine tree branch deny Spieth the greatest comeback story in major championship history?

It certainly got in the way of a still-brilliant story Spieth put together on Sunday, closing with 64 that might have been 62 had his tee shot at the 18th found the fairway instead of a branch.

Still, Spieth showed again why he is perfect for Augusta National. It’s as if he sees it differently than others and he plays it as if he’s a part of the place. Were it not for the double-bogey, bogey start on Friday (throw in a closing bogey in his Thursday 66 when he also hit a tree at 18) and Spieth might have his second green jacket.

If you had to pick one player in today’s generation destined to win multiple Masters, it’s Spieth.

FOWLER: It was another missed chance for Fowler in a major but this one was different.

He pushed the issue in the final round, completing a 65-67 weekend and forcing Reed to beat him. That hasn’t always been the Fowler way. A year ago, he faded on Sunday with a chance to win the Masters. This time, Fowler stalked the lead throughout the afternoon.

Much has been made about Fowler having eight top-five finishes in major championships but no trophy. This Masters, more than any other near miss, reinforced the feeling that Fowler’s time is coming.

“I am ready to go win a major, but this was kind of the first major week that I understood that and known that and felt that,” Fowler said.

MCILROY: As McIlroy settled in over a seven-foot eagle putt at the second hole Sunday that would have given him a share of the Masters lead with Reed, it seemed as if this was finally going to be his time at Augusta National.

Instead, McIlroy melted. He couldn’t hole putts. He didn’t look comfortable. He looked out of rhythm.

It was discouraging. He’s become a top-10 machine at the Masters but that’s not what McIlroy is chasing. His flat-line Sunday raised lingering questions about his putting under pressure.

That may sound silly if McIlroy goes on a run this summer but it was a stumble when he could have taken a leap into history.


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