Reed eagles way to 3-stroke lead in Masters

Patrick Reed didn’t post a top-10 finish in a major championship until tying for second in the PGA Championship last August, and now he’s on the verge of winning his first Grand Slam event.

The 27-year-old Reed eagled the 13th and 15th holes while carding a 5-under-par 67 to take a three-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland heading into the final round of the 82nd Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Reed, who posted a 54-hole total of 14-under 202, will play the final round alongside McIlroy, who with a victory will become the sixth player to complete the Career Grand Slam.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Reed, who rolled in a 14-foot putt for his first eagle and chipped in from 27 yards for the second. “Obviously we’re both playing really solid golf, and to be able to go into a final round on Sunday at the first major, to go up against each other and go out and play some good golf, it’s going to be a lot of fun to go out there.

“I am leading … but at the same time, he’s trying to go for the Career Grand Slam. You can put it either way. I mean, honestly, I woke up this morning, felt fine. Didn’t feel any pressure. Just came out and tried to play some golf.

“And I believe that’s how it’s going to be tomorrow. Wake up and just come out and play golf and whatever happens, happens.”

The have a history, too, as the fiery Reed pulled out a 1-up victory in perhaps the most exciting Sunday singles match to help the United States win the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

McIlroy, 28, who can join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as winners of the Grand Slam, moved into position with a bogey-free 65, including an eagle on the eighth hole.

“Patrick is going for his first and I’m going for something else,” said the seventh-ranked McIlroy, who has four major titles, but none since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. “I feel like all the pressure is on him. “He’s got to go out and protect that (lead), and he’s got a few guys chasing him that are pretty big-time players.

“He’s got that to deal with and sleep on tonight. “I feel like I can go out there and play like I’ve got nothing to lose. If I can do that, I feel like I’ll be OK.”

Eighth-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta eagled the second hole in another bogey-free 65 and is five shots back in third, followed one more behind by second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who eagled No. 8 in yet another 65, and Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who is seven down in fifth after a 70.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson shot 68 and is eight strokes back in a tie for sixth with Tommy Fleetwood of England, who put up a 66, and Marc Leishman of Australia, who struggled to a 73.

Second-ranked Justin Thomas, who won the PGA at Quail Hollow in his last major start, totaled 70 and is another shot behind in a tie for ninth with fourth-ranked Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion, who finished at 71.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson also posted a 71 and is tied for 11th, fifth-ranked Justin Rose of England is tied for 12th after a 71, and sixth-ranked Hideki Matsuyama of Japan came in at 72 and is tied for 21st.

Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods shot 72 and is tied for 40th, while three-time winner Phil Mickelson had a 74 and is tied for 50th.

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