Patrick Reed says Green Jacket is his reward after repelling Masters challengers

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And, although it was not the collapse of 2011, when he enjoyed a four-shot lead after 54 holes before crashing to a closing 80, the Northern Irishman has now failed to convert his first four chances to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods in winning all four majors.

Spieth looked like he had solved his putting woes last week at the Houston Open and then again Thursday when he opened with a 6-under 66 that gave him a two-stroke lead after the first round. Like on 18 today, I hit such a handsome, high 7-iron, and it was a foot away from being back down the hill [toward the pin]. "I had a hard time just sitting or walking".

By the time McIlroy's day mercifully ended, the bounce in his step was gone, replaced by a dejected look and slumping shoulders. You know, it's something that I needed to learn, especially at a place like this, how important it is to stick to what I believe and how I feel like I need to play the golf course.

It also left him shaking his head, trying to figure out why it all went so bad.

"The biggest thing was I put too much pressure on myself", added Reed, who helped Augusta State win two NCAA titles.

"I didn't quite do enough". If you had said that a year ago at this particular time I would have been competing again, I would have said you were insane.

The Masters is where he threw away a four-shot lead in the final round, and now it's the missing piece of a career slam.

Reed, who had never cracked 70 in 12 Masters rounds before this week, became the fourth straight first-time Masters victor and the ninth first-time victor in the past 10 majors.

"It's the last round of a major championship, and we're both going for.", McIlroy said, clearly confident after his third round.

"I feel like this is a year to knock off our first", he said. "I didn't hit my irons very good at all", Woods said.

It turned out to be no fun for McIlroy.

"You know, but the way you're going to do that is perform in these big events and to win these big events". The four-time major victor from Northern Ireland painted himself as the underdog, citing the fact Reed played college golf nearby at Augusta State, asserting the pressure is all on his opponent and saying, "I'm hoping to spoil the party". But that's another thing that just kind of played into my hand.

The matchup of Reed and McIlroy in the final group had drawn comparisons to their Ryder Cup match at Hazeltine in 2016, when they traded birdie after birdie before Reed walked off with a 1-up win. Reed also doesn't buy into the idea that the pressure is all on him, a notion McIlroy quickly suggested.

"I think 100% I can come back and win here", he said. I went out there and I tried so hard to get the ball in the hole.

"With eight people ahead of me starting the day, to get that much help and shoot a fantastic round was almost impossible", said Spieth, whose only blemish was bogey at the 18th after his tee shot hit a branch. And on Sunday, he heard the cheers ahead of him for Jordan Spieth and answered with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 12 and an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 14.

"I am leading", he said. He finished at 15 under, holding off Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth for the win. "I was happy to make that last putt". "Not that I have anything against Patrick".

McIlroy was lucky to remain in bounds and even more fortunate to have a clean shot, the 28-year-old finding a greenside bunker with his approach and saving par. But it will likely damage his psyche.