A helicopter finish for the ages

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Patrick Reed shot a final-round 71 and hung on to win the 2018 Masters by one shot over Rickie Fowler. Reed holed clutch putts when he needed them and had a few fortuitous bounces down the stretch to claim his first major championship. Finishing two back of Reed was Jordan Spieth, who shot a final-round 64. Full scores

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It took Patrick Reed 15 major championships before he notched a top 10 finish (t2nd) at last year's PGA Championship. One major later, Reed is a major champion and closer to fulfilling his 2014 proclamation that he is one of the best five players in golf. The success has come from the 28-year-old's continued progression as a player. Reed has always been one of the elite players in golf inside 125 yards, but his ball-striking held him back. It was even more apparent at major championship venues that possess razor thin margins of error from tee-to-green. Reed's inability to hit the ball left-to-right in competition limited his ceiling. This week, Reed leaned on the hard work he put into trusting his swing and executed countless fades off the tee and into the difficult Augusta greens. The win will move Reed up 11th in the world rankings and cement him in golf history.

A runner-up for Rick

Another major, another close call for Rickie Fowler, who collected his third runner-up and 8th top 5 in major championships. Fowler was slow out of the gates on Sunday, making his first birdie on the 8th hole before rattling off five more, including one on the 18th hole to force Reed to make par on the final hole to win. Fowler will look back on a few missed opportunities throughout the final round, but his poor decision on Saturday sticks with me.

As pointed out in yesterday's newsletter, Fowler had a poor lie in the rough on the par-5 13th. Rather than laying up and leaving a simple up-and-down to the back pin, Fowler took an unneeded risk that found the water. After a drop, Fowler got up-and-down from where a layup would have ended up. That one shot ended up being the difference between a playoff and finishing solo second. Fowler is close, and this Masters experience should only help him get his first major title soon.

A near historic comeback

Jordan Spieth started the final round nine shots back of Reed and appeared to have no chance at capturing his second Green Jacket. Then Spieth made five birdies on the front nine to go out in 31 and rattle off birdies at 12, 13, 15 and 16 to tie the lead. The shot of the day came when Spieth hit it to five feet on the par-5 13th from the pinestraw, a shot CBS inexplicably cut to commercial before.

Spieth's hopes came crashing down when he hit the tree limbs that overhang the 18th tee for the second time this week! Spieth went on to make a bogey on the hole, like he did when he hit the same tree in round one, and finished two shots back of Reed. The crazy small margin of golf.

Spieth's 64 was the lowest final round in Masters history and has cemented him as the favorite year in and year out at Augusta. In his five starts at Augusta, Spieth has finished t2nd, 1st, t2nd, t11th, 3rd.

Hot blooded

23-year-old Jon Rahm thrust himself into contention after birdies on the 13th and 14th put him two shots back. Rahm went for the jugular on the 15th coming up a few feet short. Had Rahm gotten up-and-down for par, he would have still had a chance, but he failed to do so. The bogey lit the Spaniard's notorious temper, and Rahm fumed his way into the clubhouse for a solo 4th, the best major championship finish of his young career.

The big slide

Rory McIlroy had a tough Sunday at Augusta, shooting a 2-over 74 to fall into a tie for 5th. It was a shocking performance after McIlroy surged into the final group on Saturday with a 65. McIlroy was abysmal approaching the green and on the greens. Some days you just don't have it, but it was shocking to see from a man playing for the career grand slam. Rory will have to wait another year to join Woods, Nicklaus, Hogan, Sarazen and Player.

Some quick hitters

Henrik Stenson shot his fourth consecutive under-par round to finish t5th, his first top 10 at the Masters.

24-year-old Aussie Cam Smith fired a back-nine 30 to surge into a tie for 5th.

Despite putting a ball into a bunker, Bubba Watson shot a 3-under 69 to finish in a tie for 5th.

After dislocating his ankle in the par 3 contest, Tony Finau battled on Sunday, shooting a 66 to notch a top-10 finish in his first Masters.

Paul Casey flirted with history. Through 16 holes, Casey was 9 under par and had the Masters single round record of 63 in his sights. Casey bogeyed his final two to finish with a 65 and tie for 15th.

Charley Hoffman got a friendly bounce on the 16th for a hole-in-one and a t12th finish.

Tiger Woods capped off his first major in three years with a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 32nd. Woods was visibly disappointed in his post-round interview, but the week has to be a positive for a man who looked like his career was over 6 months ago.

Phil Mickelson equaled his lowest final round at Augusta to finish in a tie for 36th.

The evolution of Augusta National

With the help of Data Golf, I dove into how the different changes to Augusta National have affected scoring through the years. Changes like tree planting have had a different effect than lengthening. Read the full story here.

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Worth your time

Alan Shipnuck wrote a fantastic piece on the unique family dynamic of Patrick Reed, who has ex-communicated his family.

College roundup with Lawson Klotz

While many were watching Patrick Reed pull out the victory at the Masters this weekend, college golf fans had their eyes on The Aggie Invitational. The field was comprised of 7 of the top 25 teams in the country: Oklahoma State (1), Texas A&M (2), Texas Tech (6), Alabama (8), Baylor (10), LSU (12), and Arkansas (16). It also had a strong individual cast with 15 of the top 50 players. Despite tough conditions, Oklahoma State came out on top by 7 shots over Kent State and by 13 over LSU and Texas A&M.

Texas A&M’s Chandler Phillips and Walker Lee took home the individual honors after shooting -5 for the event. Trailing the Aggie pair was Viktor Hovland and Ian Holt at -4, Kyle Mueller at -3, and Trey Winstead at -2.

Looking ahead to the NCAA Championship in May, it’s safe to say that Oklahoma State will likely be the favorite. They will play at their home course, and they have won six of their seven events.

The famed Western Intercollegiate was held this weekend, and North Carolina captured the team title by ten shots over Cal. On the individual side, two of the country’s top players, Norman Xiong and Collin Morikawa, squared off in a playoff. Oregon’s Xiong outlasted Morikawa for his third straight win.