Patrick Reed won The Masters, but Rickie Fowler won the hearts and minds of everyone watching
He's an absolute gent.
It's difficult to divorce ourselves from the idea that Patrick Reed was the champion most people didn't want. It's a terrible, gnawing thought, but when you weigh up the other main actors in the play – Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and, to a point, Rory McIlroy – it's the conclusion we keep arriving at.
Reed was a worthy champion. He played with guts, precision and showed the kind of fiery spirit that has made him a titanic Ryder Cup competitor in recent years. However, Spieth is Augusta's favourite son, McIlroy was chasing a Slam and then there's Rickie.
Fowler has had this feeling of agony before. He's come within touching distance of clinching all four majors at one point in his career and this week was just another painful close-shave.
Often touted as the USA's flamboyant answer to McIlroy, Fowler has won a Players Championship, he's won a Ryder Cup and he's earned his status as one of the foremost talents in the game. But he's still not a major champion. One can only hope that it will come for him, like it came for Sergio Garcia, like it came for Phil Mickelson (people tend to forget that Lefty had been on tour for well over a decade before he landed the 2004 Masters).
When Reed drained the winning putt and embraced his wife at the side of the green, Fowler was waiting up ahead. When Reed approached, Fowler was characteristically gracious in defeat, offering his opponent a hug and a congratulatory word or two.
When it was over, everyone united in their praise for Fowler.
— Kyle Sandoval (@KColv17) April 8, 2018
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 8, 2018
— 😷 M a s k . u p 💙 (@_LizToday) April 8, 2018
Even though he came up short, Rickie Fowler proved today -- yet again -- that his first major championship victory is just a matter of when, not if.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) April 8, 2018
How classy is Rickie Fowler. Salute. #TheMasters
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) April 8, 2018
Our next job as a sports-loving nation is to get Rickie Fowler a major championship. #Masters
— Brian Murphy (@knbrmurph) April 8, 2018
If you have a son, you'd want him to be Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler. And not just because you'd be rich.
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) April 8, 2018
Speaking to the BBC in his post-round interview, Fowler said he enjoyed himself out there.
"It was a lot of fun. Back nine was, the front nine was stressful. I made a lot of good swings where it didn't fly where we thought it might. Birdied 8 and 9 and put ourselves in position going into the back nine but to execute the shots and make good putts and birdie the last and make him [Patrick Reed] honest and earn it, we had a chance to win here and I'm definitely pleased with how I played."
"I'm happy with the week, we were committing and sticking to our gameplan and it was a lot of fun all the way around. Unfortunately, we were one shot short but I had a lot of fun."