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SportsPulse: Nancy Armour and Steve DiMeglio break down Round 3 of the Masters, including the strong Saturday performances of Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed.
USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Reed holds a three-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round at the Masters. He’s looked unbeatable for 54 holes, but we all know there’s nothing quite like the back nine at the first major of the year. 

Reed, a hometown favorite who won national titles at Augusta State as Rory McIlroy pointed out, is chasing his first major title and a piece of Masters history. McIlroy is three shots back and needs a green jacket to complete his career grand slam. 

McIlroy, a four-time major champion, knows about the pressure on late Sunday afternoon and says he’s learned from his 2011 collapse at Augusta National. 

Reed and McIlroy are being chased by Rickie Fowler, who is five shots off the lead, and Jon Rahm, six back. It’s worth noting that all four of the top leaders are under 30, with Fowler the oldest at 29. 

Here’s a look at some of the drama surrounding the final pairing of Reed-McIlroy, who have Ryder Cup history. 

Fowler says he’s learned some lessons that may serve him well in the final round today.

Only one golfer birdied No. 11 on Saturday and he wasn’t even officially in the field

Tiger Woods was disappointed with his third-round 72 and here’s his goal for Sunday

Woods  tees off at 11:10 with Rafael Cabrera Bello. Reed and McIlroy are off at 2:40. 

Tiger bounces back with birdie on 8

The adventure continues. Woods delivered a birdie on the par-5 eighth after a solid chip shot from left of the green to 5 feet. 

Woods is 1 under on the day (three birdies, two bogeys) and 3 over for the tournament.

Cabrera Bello also birdied to get to +1 overall.

Mickelson birdied No. 13 to get to +5.

3-putt bogey wastes brilliant approach

if you can’t go through it, go around it. Tiger power-sliced his approach from just off the fairway on No. 7 to within 8 feet for another try at birdie.

Alas, no joy for Woods, who missed the birdie putt, and the par putt and he wasted the brilliant approach. Three-putt bogey for Woods, back to 4 over.

Into the rough … ummm, second cut

Tiger’s tee shot on No. 7 (450 yards, par 4) looked like a beauty — Eldrick even twirled the club after watching it fly — kicked right and into the rough, 320 yards down the fairway. Lurking just in view … a tree, which complicates the approach … 120 yards to the right-side pin location.

Vijay Singh, 3 under through 13 holes, has the best round going.

Mickelson bogeyed No. 11 and is back to 6 over.

Augusta giveth, Augusta taketh away

After Tiger nearly aced the par 3 fourth, his tee shot on the par-3 sixth (playing about 187 yards on Sunday) was off line from the start and plunked a patron 29 yards right of the green. 

Despite the errant tee shot, Woods managed to save par: He pitched to 8 feet away, and he made the putt. Still +3.

Tiger’s irons are solid so far on Sunday

After a 279-yard tee shot with a fairway metal, Woods knocked his approach right on line to within 26 feet on the 455-yard, par-4 fifth.

Woods’ birdie try scared the hole but slipped 3 feet past. The par putt spun around and in. He stays 3 over.

Tiger nearly aces the par-3 fourth

Tiger’s tee shot ran right past — over? — the hole at the 240-yard par-3 fourth, just skipping past the flag stick and stopping 9 feet away. 

After watching playing partner Cabrera Bello knock in his putt on roughly the same line, Woods dropped his birdie putt in the side door to move to +3.

 

Even pros, including Tiger, foul up chip shots

After bashing a 321-yard tee shot that, unfortunately drifted left of the fairway, Woods fouled up the pitch shot, sweeping his wedge under the ball and coming up well short of the green. His third found the green but left him 13 feet from the pin.

The putt was just off line, and the bogey bumps him back to +4.

Mickelson has cooled off … a bogey 6 at No. 8 drops him back to +5.

Tiger lands birdie on No. 2

Woods took a bit of a circuitous route — long tee shot into the pine straw on the right, a big bender around trees and down the fairway, high pitch shot over a bunker to within 3 feet, bingo! — to his first birdie of the day, and he moves to +3.

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, is still -3 through 7 and +4 for the tournament.

CBS loves its ratings

Ratings for the Masters broadcast are up, according to CBS.

 

Tiger’s birdie putt on 1 lips out

Woods missed a dandy opportunity to get off to a fast start by missing a very makeable 8 footer for birdie on the opening hole. He played the hole perfectly until the birdie putt, which was struck a bit firmly. He stays at +4.

Birdie run ends for Phil

Mickelson came up just short on his birdie attempt at No. 5, ending his run of three consecutive birdies. He is safely in with par and will stay at +4.

Tiger Woods is on the course

Tiger Woods (+4) is on the course, and his tee shot at No. 1 was dead center. Something of a victory for Woods, who struggles with the opening hole. He is playing with Rafael Cabrera Bello.

Phil! Birdie-birdie-birdie for Mickelson

It’s too bad Phil Mickelson began Sunday so far back … or the leaders might be hearing the footsteps of the three-time champ. Mickelson made it back-to-back-to-back birdies with a 2 on the 240-yard par-3 fourth. He is now at +4.

Phil also birdied 2, 3, 4 in 2015, and his low round at Augusta National is 65.

 

Another birdie for Phil

Mickelson moves to 5 over with a birdie at the 350-yard par-4 third. A 303-yard drive, approach to 14 feet and drain-o on the putt. Phil is at +5.

Mickelson birdies the par-5 second

Phil Mickelson is not where he wants to be on Sunday at the Masters. But at least he’s no longer in last place. A birdie on the par-5 second hole moves him to 6 over. Next to last. Mickelson is wearing a large bandage on his left hand; no word on why.

Sunday’s tee times (TV: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., CBS Sports)

10 a.m. – Vijay Singh

10:10 a.m. – Ian Poulter, Brian Harman

10:20 a.m. – Chez Reavie, Phil Mickelson

10:30 a.m. – Tyrrell Hatton, a-Doug Ghim

10:40 a.m. – Martin Kaymer, Kyle Stanley

10:50 a.m. – Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Xander Schauffele

11 a.m. – Bryson DeChambeau, Branden Grace

11:10 a.m. – Rafael Cabrera Bello, Tiger Woods

11:20 a.m. – Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples

11:40 a.m. –Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson

11:50 a.m. – Ryan Moore, Jhonattan Vegas

12 p.m. – Adam Scott, Daniel Berger

12:10 p.m. – Haotong Li, Paul Casey

12:20 p.m. – Adam Hadwin, Hideki Matsuyama

12:30 p.m. – Satoshi Kodaira, Russell Henley

12:40 p.m. – Kevin Kisner, Francesco Molinari

12:50 p.m. – Matthew Fitzpatrick, Si Woo Kim

1 p.m. – Charley Hoffman, Tony Finau

1:20 p.m. – Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar

1:30 p.m. – Jason Day, Bernd Wiesberger

1:40 p.m. – Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen

1:50 p.m. – Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith

2 p.m. – Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth

2:10 p.m. – Bubba Watson, Marc Leishman

2:20 p.m. – Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood

2:30 p.m. – Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm

2:40 p.m. – Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy

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