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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 led Rory McIlroy by three shots entering Sunday’s final of the Masters. He looked unbeatable for 54 holes, but we all know there’s nothing quite like the back nine at the first major of the year. 

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods found something good on the final nine holes Sunday — before a bogey on 18 — to close with a final-round 69, 1 over for the tournament.

It was a pretty good finish for the four-time champ, out of contention but looking for  positives in his first Masters since 2015.

“Another loose day with the irons, and I putted awful,” Woods told CBS. “Bittersweet.”

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. 

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

Paul Casey is 8 under

The now score on the day belongs to Casey, who is 8 under on the day, 5 under on the back and 6 under for the tournament.

Patrick Reed rights the ship

Reed got back to even par on the day and 14 under on the tournament when he slammed in a birdie at No. 3 … and McIlroy made bogey.

All of a sudden we are back where we started, a three-shot lead for Reed.

Jon Rahm wants in this chase

Rahm made birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 to get to 10 under, one better than playing partner Rickie Fowler.

Alas, his tee shot on the par-3 fourth found the bunker.

Justin Rose, as well, making a bit of a move. He is 3 under through seven holes, to 6 under overall.

Here comes Rory!

McIlroy birdied the par-5 second — massive drive, on-target approach to within 6 feet, just missing the eagle putt — and he is one back at 12 under. Even so, it was a bit of a missed opportunity.

Reed managed only a par after knocking his approach into the a bunker. His lead, which started at three shots, is down to one.

Webb Simpson is at 7 under on Sunday

There are good scores out there. Simpson birdied No. 15 to get to 4 under overall and 7 under in the final round.

Another birdie for Spieth 

Jordan Spieth is 3 under through five holes and has moved to 8 under par.

Tiger adds another birdie at 17

Tiger Woods played 17 beautifully, with a big tee shot, a solid approach to 8 feet and a birdie 3.

He is even par for the tournament and 4 under in the final round.

Reed mangles the opening hole

New life for the chase pack, starting with McIlroy. Reed managed to salvage bogey on No. 1 despite a tee shot into trouble, a second into the greenside bunker, the third to the back of the green and a long downhill putt to within about 4 feet for bogey.

McIlroy, meanwhile, played a brilliant bunker shot after lousy first and second shots to make par.

Reed drops to -13, and his lead is two.

Tiger taps in for par at 16

Tiger Woods had no trouble at 16, safely on the green, long putt to set up a tap in for par. He is at 1 over for the tournament.

And it’s on … the leaders are on the course

Patrick Reed, the leader at 14 under, and Rory McIlroy, in pursuit at 11 under, are finally on the course.

Reed is chasing his first major title; McIlroy is chasing the career Grand Slam.

Reed’s tee shot found the pine straw, and tree trouble, left of the fairway; McIlroy was way right off the tee. “Sideways,” as Nick Faldo said on the CBS broadcast.

McIlroy considered hitting a provisional, but it was unneeded.

Tiger makes his first eagle of the week

Tiger Woods flashed a smile — after acknowledging the roar — after his first eagle of the week, at No. 15.

Woods moves to 1 over for the tournament and 3 under for the final round.

Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm are on their way

The next-to-last group, Fowler at -9, Rahm at -8, are on the course at last.

Birdie-birdie start for Spieth

Jordan Spieth missed an eagle at the par-5 second by a couple feet, but he tapped for a second consecutive birdie. He is at 7 under.

Fine finish for the amateur

Doug Ghim, the low amateur by virtue of making the cut (the only am to do so), completed his final round with a brilliant chip-in birdie.

He landed three eagles during the week and finished 8 over for the tournament.

Tiger makes par at 14

Somewhat tricky for Tiger after a terrific tee shot. His approach left him a 26-foot downhill putt for birdie. Woods negotiated it admirably for a tap-in par to stay at 1 under for the day, 3 over for the tournament.

Webb Simpson gives one back

Simpson could not escape Amen Corner unscathed: A bogey at No. 12 drops him back to 5 under for the day.

Spieth opens with a birdie

The 2015 Masters champ was pin-seeking from the start, knocking his approach on 1 to within 8 feet and draining the putt. He is at 6 under. Playing partner Justin Thomas made par.

Webb Simpson is 6 under

The 2012 U.S. Open champ made birdie on No. 10 to move to 6 under on the day, 3 under overall.

Back-to-back eagles (at Nos. 7 and 8) can move things along rapidly.

Tiger makes birdie on 13

Woods blasted his drive 304 yards, dead center of the fairway on the par-5 13th, leaving himself about 180 yards to the pin. His approach was solid, and a two-putt for birdie. He is back to 3 over.

Jordan Spieth on his way in final round

Day 1 leader Jordan Spieth and reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas have begun their final round. They are 5 under.

Mickelson finishes with a 67

Phil Mickelson birdied the par-4 17th to get to 2 over for the tournament and 5 under on the day. He made par on 18 to finish with a final-round 67.

Stress-free par 3 at No. 12 for Tiger

Tiger had no trouble with the tricky 12th: Tee shot to center of green, 26-foot birdie putt to 2 feet for par.

Tiger makes par at 11

One hole in Amen Corner down, one par. Woods played No. 11 efficiently with a relatively painless par putt. He remains at 4 over. Playing partner Cabrera Bello bogeyed and falls back to +2 overall.

Next up, the very testy No. 12.

Bubba begins his final round

Two-time champ Bubba Watson begins his final round. He starts the day at 6 under, eight shots behind Patrick Reed.

Watson won in 2012 and 2014.

Mickelson with another eagle

Phil Mickelson, coming down the home stretch, eagled the par-5 No. 15 (he eagled No. 8 on Saturday).

Mickelson is 4 under on the day and 3 over for the tournament.

Tiger arrives at Amen Corner

Woods blasted his tee shot 338 yards at the 505-yard No. 11, the start of Amen Corner.

He is over par for the week on the three famous holes.

Tiger starts the back nine with par

Woods negotiated the tee shot and approach on the par-4, 495-yard 10th, giving himself another look at birdie, from 12 feet below the hole. A solid putt doesn’t go, and it’s another par. Still +4.

Whoa, Webb Simpson!

The former U.S. Open champ is red hot at the moment, 5 under par eight holes, including back-to-back eagles at 7 and 8.

Simpson holed out from 166 yards on the par-4 No. 7, then chipped in from 20 yards for a 3 on the par-5 No. 8.

 

Still an hour until the leaders get rolling

Nobody is going low so far on Sunday, but Reed (-14) could threaten the scoring record at Augusta.

The scoring record is 270, 18 under par (Woods, Spieth).

Another bogey for Tiger

Woods blistered his drive on No. 9, 338 yards, leaving him 115 yards to the pin. But his approach — the iron shots are not so solid after all — came up well short of his target on and spun back off the green, 25 yards from the hole.

Woods’ wedge was much better, to 5 feet from the flag. But the putter let him down again. Bogey.

Woods makes the turn at even par for the day, 4 over for the tournament.

Cabrera Bello completed his front nine in 34, 1 over for the tournament.

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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