AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Starting the day nine strokes off the pace at Augusta National on Sunday, Jordan Spieth made a Masters charge for the ages by firing a record-tying final round of eight-under 64 but fell just short of catching eventual winner Patrick Reed.
When Spieth, who began the round at five-under, sank a 33-foot putt at the par-three 16th to reach 14-under-par, he tied Reed for the lead, threatening to achieve the greatest final-round comeback at the Masters.
The 2015 champion, however, ran out of steam and after a par at 17 then hit a wayward drive at the last and missed an eight-foot putt for par to post his first bogey of the day.
He finished third on 13-under-par 275, two back of Reed.
“In general this round was fantastic,” said the 24-year-old Spieth, who has a win, two seconds, a third and an 11th-place finish in five starts at Augusta National.
Spieth said he was so far back after two lackluster days with his renowned putter that he just put his head down and tried to have fun.
“The first time I saw the leaderboard was after I tapped in on 18. Honest to God. Didn’t look once today,” he told reporters. “That was my plan going in. I’m nine back. Go out and just have fun.”
The Texan breathed life into what began as a dithering duel between Reed and Rory McIlroy.
Spieth stacked up five birdies in a flawless first nine to close the gap to four. Birdies at 12, 13, 15 and 16 electrified the galleries and tightened up the leaderboard.
The birdie at the short, par-three 12th thrilled Spieth, who squandered a five-shot Masters lead going into the final nine in 2016 due in large part to a quadruple-bogey seven after splashing twice in Rae’s Creek.
“What we did on 12 today was really cool,” he said about sinking a 27-foot putt for birdie on the devilish hole that had confounded him in each of his previous Masters.
“I mean nobody’s going to have a great Sunday every year at Augusta National. To be able to have a chance to win this tournament five years in a row is really, really cool.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford