The US Masters has produced another memorable championship, particularly for first-time major winner, Patrick Reed!
Before the world's top golfers hit the greens at Augusta National, the hot talk in town was all about how Rory McIlroy was back to his best and might finally land the one major to elude him, or how Tiger Woods would turn back the clock. In the end, it was Reed who put his name in lights and his torso in the famous green jacket.
While Woods started poorly and had to battle to make the cut on the second day, and McIlroy undid three days of spellbinding golf with a mediocre final round - Reed maintained his excellence throughout.
If Woods or McIlroy couldn't do it, there was no surprise in the sight of Jordan Spieth making a charge on the final day–at one stage drawing level with Reed! But, as ice-cool Spieth is, Reed was every bit as solid under pressure and saw off both his challenges and that of eventual runner-up Rickie Fowler, whose round of 67 on the final day was the best in the field. His six birdies in the final 11 holes pushed him to within one shot of Reed, whose one-under final round of 71 was just enough.
For golf's newest major winner, it was an even more emotional moment than would be usual, as he attended nearby Augusta University and was thus playing in something akin to his home tournament.
He remarked afterwards: "Any time trying to close off a golf tournament is really hard but to close off my first major at a place that's so close to me, being where I went to college, means so much! I knew the lead would shrink and grow - it's just the flow of golf, you have to know how to handle it and the way I could get that done was to make sure the putter was working."
Handle it he undoubtedly did and in doing so, received the plaudits of the golfing world. Having slipped out of contention early on, Tiger was swift to offer his congratulations. As the skipper of the 2019 US team for the President's Cup, he assured Reed he would at least get a captain's pick for the event.
With the top three places occupied by Americans and all four majors now held by players from the US, the situation looks distinctly rosy for the Ryder Cup holders ahead of their clash with Europe at Le Golf National later this year.
However, much can change in that time and McIlroy certainly showed enough at Augusta to indicate he is able to win more majors even if that green jacket continues to elude him. Having gone into the final day just three shots off the pace, he was left reflecting, once again, on what might have been.
He said: "I played some of the best golf I've ever played here – it just wasn't meant to be. I think 100 percent I can come back and win here!" Perhaps that will happen in 2019. But for now, the golfing world is toasting a first-time major winner for the third masters in a row.
Perhaps that will happen in 2019. But for now, the golfing world is toasting a first-time major winner for the third masters in a row.