'I've been waiting for this chance' - McIlroy ready for Masters redemption

'I've been waiting for this chance' - McIlroy ready for Masters redemption

But how could it not? Reed pumped his fist, the kind of emotion he typically saves for the Ryder Cup.

The stage is set for a suspenseful Sunday, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be nowhere near the spotlight.

Rickie Fowler is also in the mix, just two shots back. "I wanted to shoot a low round and see if something insane happens".

There was a crackle in the air during the Masters' third round but, thick and close as the clouds were, the energy had nothing to do with the forecast storms.

McIlroy repeatedly screamed at and incited the vociferous American crowd at Hazeltine two years later in a match he lost to Reed.

Woods is assured of moving back into the top 100 in the world, notable only because he was at No. 1,199 just over four months ago when he returned from yet another long layoff following a fourth back surgery.

Reed took charge of the third round at Augusta National with three birdies on the hop from the eighth before eagling both 13 and 15 en-route to a 67. In 12 previous Masters, he has never finished in the top 10, has missed the cut four times (including last year), has a scoring average of nearly a stroke-and-a-half over par and had broken 70 just three times in 40 rounds. McIlroy took the dais first and delivered the first volley.

McIlroy insists Reed, 14 under after three rounds, will be the man with the most pressure on his shoulders. He left the Bulldogs to lead Augusta State to back-to-back national championships.

They've still got a lot of work to do. He went to Augusta State and has a lot of support and I'm hoping to come in here and spoil the party.




McIlroy was later asked if he "really believed that" part about the support, and he backed off the comments. For Reed, this would be his first major championship, but for McIlroy, it would be the completion of a career grand slam. The Masters makes some players very rich too. No one has ever won the Masters when trailing by more than eight shots going into the weekend. The 29-year-old world No7 had come agonisingly close to making the 2011 Masters his first major victory before a heart-breaking meltdown on the back nine on Sunday. That remains to be seen.

Mickelson smacked a shot into the trees trying to escape a forest and made triple bogey, deposited a tee shot into Rae's Creek on No. 12 for a double bogey and shot a 79, matching his worst score at Augusta National.

Reed started and finished the front nine with three straight birdies.

"I've been waiting for this chance, to be honest", said McIlroy in a news conference. "It's just another day at the golf course".

"Honestly, I don't really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me", Reed said. "I won't be playing Rory McIlroy".

It was a good answer. A little bit of everything. He isn't going to be deferential about anything in a sport that rewards the athletes for doing things "the right way". Still: With so many robotic PGA Tour players out there, you'd think more fans would find Reed's cockiness is refreshing. Masters patrons want a good show, regardless of who's providing the fireworks. "You know, I just couldn't do it three days in a row".

No tournament in golf quite conjures expressions of romance quite like the Masters, with its cinematic setting, age-old traditions and sheen of exclusivity.

Reed, 27, knows his pugnacious nature makes him a lightning rod, with his backstory of conflict stirring emotions in those who root for him and against him.

"Í hit my irons terrible today", he said Saturday. Woods watched intently as the putt broke the right and tracked all the way into the bottom of the cup for the first eagle of his tournament. It was a brilliant moment that kept in him total control of this tournament.

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