Patrick Reed held off fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to win his first major title in the Masters as Rory McIlory missed out on his first Green Jacket.

Reed carded a final round of 71 at Augusta National to finish 15 under par and a shot ahead of Fowler, with 2015 champion Spieth another stroke back after an astonishing challenge faltered at the last.

Speaking during the presentation ceremony in the Butler Cabin, Reed said: "It's almost impossible to put it into words, just to make the putt on the last and know that I have won my first major and ending the drought of not winning last year."

Seeking the win he needs to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam, Rory McIlroy was just a shot off the lead after two holes but faded badly with a closing 74.

"I played probably some of the best golf I've ever played here, it just wasn't meant to be," McIlroy said.

Patrick Reed talks off his hat and walks off of the green with Rory McIlroy who missed out on his first Green Jacket. Credit: PA

"Of course it's frustrating and it's hard to take any positives from it right now, but at least I put myself in a position, that's all I've wanted to do.

"For the last four years I've had top 10s but I haven't been close enough to the lead. Today I got myself there, I didn't quite do enough but I'll still come back next year and try again."

What many expected to be a battle between the final pair of Reed and McIlroy got off to a shaky start, with Reed's drive finishing close to a tree to the left of the fairway and McIlroy hitting a wild drive to the right.

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.

Reed appeared to hit the tree on his backswing but also ended up in the same bunker as McIlroy, only to thin his third shot to the back of the green.

McIlroy looked like getting on level terms after a spectacular approach to the par-five second, but was unable to convert the eagle putt from four feet and that would prove to be as close as he would get to the lead.

24-year-old Reed told CBS how he didn't check this score throughout the course and only knew where he stood after it finished.

He said: "I did not look at one (score) board. The only time I knew where I stood was after 18. I knew the putt was important, every shot was important coming down the stretch.

"Obviously I'm gutted with the finish. I hit a tee shot that was not that bad, just caught the last branch of that tree.

"I'd like to go back to that tee shot but I certainly would have signed for it (a 64) if you asked me at the start of the day."