Rory McIlroy has subtle dig at Reed ahead of showdown

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US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed – with one career top-10 in a major – takes a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy into the final round at Augusta National.

Reed and McIlroy famously went head-to-head in an incredible singles battle at Hazeltine in 2016, with Reed coming out on top that day one-up.

McIlroy, 28, is hoping to become only the sixth player in history to win the grand slam, with a green jacket the only thing missing from his major haul.

The Northern Irishman finished on a high, as if desperate to have the last say, holing a 20-footer at the last for birdie.

Talking about the Reed/Rory showdown, McIlroy said it would be ‘different’ - but couldn’t resist a subtle dig at his American rival in front of the press.

“Patrick’s going for his first tomorrow and I’m going… for something else,” he said, much to the amusement of the room. “The pressure is all on him.

“It’ll be slightly different,” said McIlroy. “It’s not Europe versus America. He played at Augusta State so he’ll have some local support. But there are a lot more players in the spot than just Patrick Reed and I.”

He added: “It’s definitely not a two-horse race.”

Reed took charge of the third round at Augusta National with three birdies on the hop from the eighth before eagling both 13 and 15 en-route to a 67.

So far this week, Reed has played the par-5s in 13-under.

It’s only the third time in his career he has ever slept on a lead in a major, having done it twice this week.

McIlroy put up a valiant fight in the midst of roars from the US crowd following Reed, and signed for a seven-under 65.

McIlroy said he rode his luck at times and once again found himself deep in the Azaleas on 13 after a poor approach. “It was a sea of pink,” he said.

Referring to his 2011 collapse at the Masters, where he let slip a four-shot lead on the final day, the four-time major champ said he was different player now.

“I’ve been waiting for this chance. 2011 was a huge turning point in my career and I realised I wasn’t ready to win then. But I am ready now.”

Reed, 27, said Sunday at the Masters was going to be something special and nothing like the Hazeltine battle.

“The biggest thing I can pull from that match was going head-to-head with him, because when he pulled a counter, I was able to stay ahead of him.

“But now it’s completely different. It’s not matchplay. There are a lot of guys on the leaderboard.”

Asked about what kind of atmosphere there might be tomorrow, Reed smiled: “It’ll be a calmer. There’s a lot of stuff you can do at a Ryder Cup that you can’t do at Augusta National. It’s going to be electrifying. The fans are going to be ready to go.

“Mentally, I’m treating it like any other tournament. I’m just out there playing golf. Hitting the ball straight. Hole some putts. But he’s going for the career grand slam. I’m leading, there is pressure, but I felt fine this morning.”

Reed was trending on Twitter, with many of the comments of a disparaging nature. Reed, it seems, is not the most popular player in America, despite the Captain America nickname.

“I don’t care what people say on Twitter,” he said. “I’m just here to play some golf. Whatever people say doesn’t really matter.”

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