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'All the pressure is on him' - McIlroy ramps up the mind games ahead of Sunday showdown with Patrick Reed

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the 18th hole during third round play of the 2018 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the 18th hole during third round play of the 2018 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy insists the pressure is all on Patrick Reed as he attempts to overhaul his Ryder Cup rival to win the Masters and complete a career grand slam.

McIlroy equalled his lowest round at the Masters with a bogey-free 65 to trail Reed by three shots heading into the final round at Augusta National.

"It's massive to be in the final group for the first time here since 2011," said McIlroy, who led by four shots after 54 holes in 2011 before collapsing to a closing 80. "I feel like I learned an awful lot that day and hopefully I can put that into practice tomorrow.

"I've been waiting for this chance, to be honest. I always have said that 2011 was a huge turning point in my career. It was the day that I realised I wasn't ready to win major championships, and I needed to reflect on that and realise what I needed to do differently.

"But now I am ready. Obviously I'm not in the lead like I was going into that day, so I probably don't have as much pressure. I don't have to protect anything. I can go out and sort of freewheel like I did today, which is a great position to be in.

"I wish I was a little closer to the lead or leading, but I'm in the final group and I've shot 65 on moving day at the Masters. It's all I can ask for.

"I'm really excited to show everyone what I've got, to show Patrick Reed what I've got and all the pressure is on him. He went to Augusta State and has a lot of support and I'm hoping to come in here and spoil the party.

"Patrick's got a three shot lead, I feel like all the pressure's on him. He's got a few guys chasing him who are pretty big time players. He's got that to sleep on tonight.

"I don't feel like there's any shot on the golf course that I can't execute and I'm much more relaxed. This isn't my first time in this position. I've been able to close the deal a few times before this.

"Patrick's going for his first (major title) and I'm going for something else."

Reed, who beat McIlroy in the opening singles match in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, said: "It's going to be a lot of fun.

"Obviously we're both playing really solid golf to be able to go into a final round on Sunday at the first major. But really I'm just going to do my thing and stick to my game plan and go out and enjoy my Sunday.

"I'm not out there to play Rory. I'm out there to play the golf course. The biggest thing I can pull from Hazeltine is I was going head to head with Rory and was able to put together a really good round, and when he tried to make a counter, I was able to always stay ahead and keep going."

Asked about McIlroy saying the pressure was all on him, Reed added: "I am leading, so I guess so. But at the same time, he's trying to go for the career grand slam. You can put it either way.

"It's going to be electrifying. The fans are going to be ready to go, they are going to be ready to cheer for whoever is making putts, whoever is making birdies or pulling off shots.

"It's just going to be one of those days you just need to go out and be able to put your nose to the grind and just play some golf."

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