To merely call it Moving Saturday at August this time was to under sell the third round very short. As it was just truly spectacular at times. The golf at times ranging from the sublime to the pure genius, to the subtlest and more beyond the comprehension of any mortal golfer. Proving once again that the annual azalea gathering in Augusta in Georgia is more than a marketing events. But a major sporting encounter in the beautiful of amphitheatres, bringing out the best and worst of each golfer I what is nothing short of gladiatorial battle with golf clubs. And as the Sunday dawn edges ever near over the course the final round this year bears all the hallmarks of anther classic with leader Patrick Reed holding a three-stroke advantage over a clearly possessed Rory McIlroy. Who even after a flowery escapade salvaged a par on what could have proved the unlucky thirteenth.
But early doors Reed made bogey at the par-4 third and gave some short-lived hope to the chasing pack. But birdies at the fifth and eighth holes settled things down. “Early on I struggled a little bit with how far the ball was going and how much it was reacting on the greens since the past couple days we’ve been playing for so much bounce and roll out and that extra foot of roll on the greens,” Reed said.
“Because of that I burned a couple of edges and hit a couple of iron shots that I thought were going to be good and ended up just a hair off, but I was able to adapt after the fourth hole and from that point on it just seemed to get back in the rhythm I’ve been playing. Hopefully I can adapt a little quicker tomorrow and be able to figure it out on the first hole rather than the fourth.”
He did make one more bogey at the par-3 16th, but a crucial par saves on the 17th ensured he signed his card 14 under with a final par at 18. He leads McIlroy by three and both men have an underlying score to settle in more ways than one. “Really excited. Any time you come out and have the lead going into Sunday you’re always going to be excited about it, but to be able to play against Rory and have him side-by-side with me is going to be a lot of fun,” Reed continued
“Every time we play with each other we seem to have a lot of fun, and we seem to both play some solid golf. So, hopefully we can get some fireworks out there and have a fun Sunday.”
If Patrick Reed beats McIlroy like he did at Hazeltine, it would make him the fourth straight first-time major winner at the Masters, joining Jordan Spieth, Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia. In fact, another sub-70 round would make him the first player in Masters history to shoot in the 60’s all four rounds. Clearly the man is currently on fire and enjoying the local support where he went to College
On the other hand, the case for Rory is show in hi error free 65 on Saturday and puts him in prime position to take his shot at the career Grand Slam on Sunday. “It’s massive. This is my first final group here since 2011 and I feel like I learned an awful lot from that day and hopefully all that I did learn seven years ago I can put into practice tomorrow,” McIlroy said. “So, I’m really excited to go out there tomorrow, show everyone what I’ve got, show Patrick Reed what I’ve got and, you know, all the pressure is on him tomorrow. He went to Augusta State, he’s got a lot of support here and I’m hoping to come in and spoil the party.”
Rickie Fowler shot 65 and lies in third and is also in search of his first major. “We’re in a good spot. The golf tournament starts tomorrow on the back nine, so today was big to at least give ourselves a chance to go get it done tomorrow,” said Fowler.
One behind Fowler is Spain’s John Rahm, who carded a seven-under 65; Henrik Stenson is at -7 with Tommy Fleetwood, Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman all at six-under.
Perhaps Patrick Reed prepared us best for the Sunday Showdown “It’s going to be electrifying. The fans are going to be ready to go, they are going to be ready to cheer for whoever is making putts, whoever is making birdies or pulling off shots.” Reed concluded.
But it’s hard to see past Rory now that he is in the final group on Masters Sunday. No better man for a mano a mano…..