AUGUSTA, Ga. (TNS) — Jordan Spieth can still make them roar at the Masters.
Even when he starts the final round nine strokes off the lead and tied for ninth.
Spieth was an afterthought on Sunday as the world was fixated on the duel between Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy in the final pairing. Reed held a three-stroke advantage but their Ryder Cup rivalry was rekindle and again at the forefront of the golfing world.
Until Spieth made an improbable charge and for a time shared the lead.
The 2015 Masters champion had five birdies on the front nine to move to 10-under par. In just a couple of hours, Spieth was second along with Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and McIlroy. All four trailed Reed by four strokes.
There was more to come. Way more.
_ Spieth birdied No. 12 to move to second by himself at 11-under, now just three strokes back.
_ He birdied No. 13 after hitting the green with a 234-yard hybrid club from the pine straw to move to 12-under, now just two back.
_ He parred No. 14 to stay at 12-under but Reed took a bogey on No. 11 to fall to 13-under, now just one back.
_ He remained one stroke back even after a birdie on No. 15, just missing and eagle putt, when Reed birdied No. 12. The emotions of Reed were exemplified when he shouted 'C'mon' after the make, his first birdie ever at the hole, left him at 14-under and Spieth at 13-under.
Close enough for you? Not yet.
_ Spieth pulled even when he rolled in a 33-foot birdie putt on No. 16. Reed could only par No. 13, failing to take advantage of the par-5 as he had done all week. It could have been worse as Reed's approach from 188 yards landed on the slope short of the green, narrowly missing the water guarding the surface. Spieth and Reed stood tied at 14-under par. A roar reverberated through and around Augusta National with the large scoreboard at No. 18 posted Spieth's tying score.
_ It didn't last long. Spieth just missed a birdie on No. 17 and Reed made an eight-foot birdie on No. 14 to regain his lead at 15-under.
Spieth finished the round with an 8-under 64, just missing the course record of 63 with a bogey at No. 18 after his tee shot hit a tree. He finished third at 13-under par after he was passed by Fowler.
Spieth said he never knew the full extent of the drama he was unfolding.
"The first time I saw the leaderboard was after I tapped in on 18," Spieth said. "Honest to God. Didn't look once today. That was my plan going in. I'm nine back. Go out and just have fun. Don't worry about the golf tournament itself, worry about playing Augusta National. I heard roars. I knew somebody was playing well. With eight people ahead of me starting the day, to get that much help and shoot a fantastic round was nearly impossible. But I almost pulled off the impossible. I had no idea. When I finished and I looked at the board I could have been in the lead by two and I could have been down four. And neither one would have surprised me."
Reed parred the final four holes to earn his first major victory at 15-under par, 1-under on the day. Just enough. Fowler got within a stroke with a late charge and finished second at 14-under with a birdie at the final hole.
Spieth has played the Masters five times and has a win, two ties for second, a third and a tie for 11th. Had he won, Spieth would have set the record for biggest final-round comeback, bettering the eight shots made up by Jack Burke in 1956 and Gary Player in 1978.
Reed had two putts for the victory but it got interesting again. His first attempt settled four feet from the hole. A miss and Reed was headed to a playoff with Fowler. The life-changing putt was true and Reed now owns a green jacket. Somehow, Reed had played just well enough, shooting a 1-under-par 71 on the final day.
It was another near miss for Fowler, who shot 65 and 67 in the final two rounds. He birdied six of the last 11 holes. It was his best finish at the Masters, adding to near misses in every major. He tied for fifth in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year. In 2014, Fowler finished second at the U.S. Open, tied for second at the British Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship. Four majors, four top-3 finishes without a win.
"I am ready to go win a major," Fowler said. "But this was kind of the first major week that I understood that and known that and felt that."