Two of the talismans for their respective 2016 Ryder Cup teams will feature in the final group of the 2018 Masters.
Two extraordinary third rounds for both Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy saw both players separate themselves from a chasing pack featuring the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson.
McIlroy, who started the day five shots off of Reed’s -9 lead, worked some utter magic in a third round 65, including these remarkable efforts on the front nine.
Masters 2018: Rory McIlroy | 6th Hole, Round 3 pic.twitter.com/raJfssvwDT
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 7, 2018
— Golf Channel LA (@GolfChannelLA) April 7, 2018
That chip in would see the Irishman briefly go level atop the leaderboard with his counterpart, who failed to get out of the blocks. As he did yesterday however, Reed scorched the famous Augusta National course, managing two eagles on the back nine to at one point reach a mammoth -15.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 7, 2018
Suddenly, the 27-year-old looked destined to emulate his fellow Texan, Jordan Spieth, who similarly destroyed the Georgia layout en-route to winning in 2015.
Jon Rahm just saw P-Reed move to -15 in the interview room. "Oh, he made another eagle. There we go. It's hard to imagine after that …"
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) April 7, 2018
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) April 7, 2018
Reed would follow that magnificent effort with a bogey and two pars though, for a round of 67 and a -14 total. McIlroy, chasing the green jacket in order to complete the legendary grand slam, birdied the last to keep the gap between the two stars at three shots. This incredible par save from the azaleas on 13 was just as crucial as the six birdies and one eagle he made.
If Rory McIlroy wins the Masters he will have the Green Jacket put on him by the father, Sergio Garcia, who just named his daughter after the name of this hole and this shrub Rory miraculously hit out of. #TheMasters @chambleebrandel @GolfChannel @CBS pic.twitter.com/q1Nyyu4dRB
— Bethpage Golf Mang (@TheHoun31088714) April 7, 2018
— GlassTalk (@GlassTalk_) April 7, 2018
The last time these two faced off in such a pressurised environment came at the 2016 Ryder Cup.
With three points between Team Europe and Team USA, respective captains Darren Clarke and Davis Love III sent out McIlroy and Reed in the opening match to capture the early momentum. The encounter saw an epic showdown in front of a rabid, partisan crowd in Minnesota.
Rory: "It's massive (getting into final pairing). This is my first final group here since 2011 and I feel like I learned an awful lot from that day. I'm really excited to show Patrick Reed what I've got tomorrow. All the pressure's on him tomorrow." #TheMasters
— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) April 7, 2018
We can’t wait for the back nine on Sunday.