Sunday 22 July 2018

Poulter predicts low-scoring battle as Reed and McIlroy chase green jacket

The American began the final round with a three-shot lead at Augusta.

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter

By Phil Casey, Press Association Sport Golf Correspondent, Augusta

Ian Poulter predicted a Sunday shootout in the Masters as Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed prepared to do battle for their own place in golfing history.

Poulter carded a final round of 69 at Augusta National, his best of the week, to finish the year’s first major championship on four over par.

“I made seven birdies, but none on the par fives,” Poulter said. “Someone is going to go low today, I feel. The golf course is receptive and Sunday back nine pins are all accessible.”

Reed held a three-shot lead over McIlroy as he looked to win his first major title and potentially become the first player in Masters history to break 70 in all four rounds.

And McIlroy had even loftier targets as he chased the win required to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in completing a career grand slam.

Most of the omens appeared to be in McIlroy’s favour, as he acknowledged earlier in the week.

“It’s hard to believe it’s my 10th Masters, but (Ben) Hogan and (Sam) Snead won on their 10th go,” he said. “Arnold (Palmer) won his first Masters at 28.

“There’s a lot of different comparisons you could make. But it’s all really meaningless unless you go out there and actually do it.”

In addition, McIlroy’s position at the start of the day matched that of the only other man to complete the grand slam at the Masters, Gene Sarazen beating Craig Wood in a play-off after beginning the final round three shots behind.

All four of McIlroy’s major wins came after being in the top five after the first round, an opening 69 here leaving him in a tie for fourth. But all four also came when he led after 54 holes.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport