Pumped-up McIlroy closes on Reed to set up round-four showdown

Day four of the Masters promises to be a classic, with Rory McIlroy having closed to within three shots of leader Patrick Reed at Augusta.

Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy lead the Masters   -  Getty Images

Patrick Reed will take a three-shot lead from Rory McIlroy into the final round of the Masters after a dramatic 'moving day' that lived up to its billing set up a grandstand finish at Augusta.

In a breathless third round, Reed maintained his spot atop the leaderboard with some at times unerring golf that returned four birdies and eagles on the two back-nine par fives to leave the American at 14 under for the tournament.

But a late bogey could prove costly and the presence of a pumped-up McIlroy is sure to be ominous for Reed. 

The Northern Irishman signed for a seven-under 65 – the joint-lowest round of the week – which included a chip-in eagle that briefly left him tied for the lead and a brilliant birdie at the last.

McIlroy was not the only man on the charge in round three, with Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm joining the four-time major champion in shooting rounds of seven under, leaving the former five shots back and the latter six.

Henrik Stenson is outright fifth, while Tommy Fleetwood surged up the leaderboard with a 66, leaving him tied with Bubba Watson at six under.

But the battle between Reed and McIlroy, who had a brilliant battle at the 2016 Ryder Cup which the American won 1up, could quickly turn into a final day reminiscent of 12 months ago when Sergio Garcia overcame Justin Rose in what was essentially a matchplay battle for the green jacket.

McIlroy was part of an initial clutch of players with Fowler, Rahm and Watson that made an early charge, and the noise from the spectators reached a fever pitch when he holed a 23-foot chip for eagle at the eighth.

Reed produced a stunning reply with three straight gains between the eighth and 10th and, as McIlroy's round became somewhat scratchy on the back nine – bar a clutch birdie at 15 – the American's juggernaut largely continued to roll.

He rebounded from a dropped shot at 12 with a sublime approach into the par-five 13th that Reed knocked in for eagle.

And when Reed chipped in from just in front of a greenside bunker two holes later, his lead over McIlroy was stretched to five strokes.

A pulsating day had a typically dramatic finale, though, starting with Reed failing to save par at the par-three 16th.

McIlroy then nailed a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th to rapturous applause from the patrons, and Reed missed with his own chance for birdie at the last to leave the gap at three.