Fowler, Spieth fall just short
AUGUSTA — Once again Rickie Fowler was forced to settle for close.
His final round 67 wasn’t enough to get the job done, and he’ll leave Augusta National with another runner-up finish and more time to mull over not having a major championship to his name. He kept Patrick Reed on his toes, but Reed made par on No. 18 to hold on to beat Fowler by one shot.
Sunday marked the eighth time Fowler was close – tied for fifth or better – in a major championship. The 2014 U.S. Open and British Open were his other two second place finishes. He tied for third at the PGA Championship and fifth at the Masters that year. Last year he added T5s at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. He also tied for fifth at the 2011 British Open.
“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. “I would say previously, still feeling the nerves and dealing with, you know, tough rounds and things not going your way.
“So I’m really looking forward to this year and the three majors that are left. You know, Shinnecock is one of my favorite golf courses in the U.S. Obviously this place, and I haven’t been to the other two, but should be a very good major season.”
Fowler got to 13 under with a birdie on 15 and applied more pressure to Reed with a birdie on 18. All that was left after that was to watch, which he did with Jordan Spieth, who was painfully close himself.
Fowler actually said seeing the numbers Spieth was putting up during the round of the day – a 64 – gave him a little motivational boost.
“I mean, solo second feels and sounds better than tied for second, so it was nice to edge out Jordan on the last,” Fowler said.
Fowler started the day five shots behind Reed. He was expecting it to be more about how he handled Sunday mentally than anything else. He did that pretty well, all things considered. He didn’t let his lone bogey on No. 5 rattle him.
He was debating on whether to hit 5-iron or 6-iron on his approach to the hole, and ultimately chose the 6-iron. He still flew the green. He bounced back quickly but still needed just a little bit more in the end.
“I wasn’t necessarily expecting (Reed) to shoot over par today. I knew I had to at least get to 14 (under) most likely,” Fowler said. “But that’s how he is. He’s a fighter, especially when he gets in contention. He’s going to grind it out.”
Turns out Fowler needed to get to 15 under. Even saying he was close may be an understatement.
He was 2 feet away from making eagle on No. 2, and a foot away from birdie on both No. 3 and No. 4. On the 10th he left his birdie putt 2 feet away, and on No. 14 he was inches away from getting to 13 under with a par 5 in front of him.
“It would have been nice to have a few more coming in and give it a real chance,” Fowler said. “But we did everything we could. Patrick went out there and outplayed all of us this week, and he earned it. So, you’ve got to give it to him. He’s your Masters champion.”
As for Spieth, who started the day nine shots back, he was putting together a historic round, and then he made a mess of the 18th hole again. He hit his approach short of the front edge of the fairway and left himself more than 300 yards from the green for his second shot. He gave himself a decent look at par, but it didn’t break right as he expected and he settled for a 64 to finish at 13 under and in third place.