McIlroy reeled in by Justin Day
Rory McIlroy has had his two-shot overnight lead cancelled out in the space of just three holes at Augusta today.
Rory McIlroy had his two-shot overnight, 75th Masters lead cancelled out in the space of just three holes at Augusta in Saturday’s third round.
The 23-year-old Jason Day maintained his bid to be the first rookie winner since 1979 – and the first Australian ever.
But the 21-year-old Northern Irishman responded with a six-foot birdie putt on the short fourth and was out on his own in front again at 11 under par.
Both were in greenside bunkers for two at the long second, but although their recoveries each ran 15 feet past the hole, Day’s came back down a slope to five feet.
And after McIlroy had to settle for a second successive par, his 23-year-old playing partner, for the third day running, made no mistake for birdie.
McIlroy then did well to save par from short of the next green, but Day, round in a spectacular 64 on day two, holed from 12 feet to bring the match to a tie.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, fell five back when he had two bogeys and a birdie on the opening four-hole stretch.
That left Korean KJ Choi, Sergio Garcia, the almost the forgotten man of European golf for the past two seasons, and a charging Australian Adam Scott in joint-third, three behind.
On the 54th birthday of compatriot Seve Ballesteros, 30-year-old Garcia, who has slumped from second to 73rd in the world, birdied the second, third and fifth and turned in 33.
But Scott was going even better.
Also out in 33, he bogeyed the 10th, but then birdied the next and eagled the long 13th.
Woods was looking to pile on early pressure and prove his return to prominence was something of substance.
Instead he unluckily drove into a divot hole at the first, squirted his next shot out to the right and failed to salvage his four.
After failing to capitalise on the reachable par five next, the four-time champion, down from first to seventh in the world after 17 months without a victory, did then come back with a 15-footer at the next, but he missed the fourth green and once again could not get up and down.
England’s Luke Donald, trying to end the jinx that every winner of the eve-of-tournament par three competition has carried into the main event, joined Woods on six under with birdies at the first and eighth.
Last year’s runner-up Lee Westwood was only one further back after two bogeys and two birdies in the first seven holes, while Scot Martin Laird – a debutant like Day – birdied the 11th, 13th and short 16th to climb to four under.
England’s Ross Fisher was alongside him, with Ian Poulter one further back.
Justin Rose was one under after a 71 and Paul Casey down on level par with seven to play.
As for defending champion Phil Mickelson, he gave himself a chance to get back in the hunt from eight back overnight when he birdied the second and third, but he then bogeyed the next and the 11th and on two under again was only joint-31st.
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