Rory McIlroy maintained his hopes of a first Masters title with a bogey-free seven-under 65, but Patrick Reed takes a three-shot lead into the final round.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, who will become the sixth man to win the career Grand Slam of golf’s four majors if he wins at Augusta, is second on 11 under.
Two ahead overnight to lead outright for the first time in a major, world number 24 Reed made two eagles in a 67.
Rickie Fowler (65) is third on nine under, one ahead of Jon Rahm (65).
The last four champions at Augusta had already won in that season, but of those within six of the lead after two rounds this year, only McIlroy, world number one Dustin Johnson and number two Justin Thomas have tasted victory so far in 2018.
McIlroy made a superb start playing alongside Henrik Stenson in the penultimate group.
He birdied three of the first six holes and then a chip from the undulations off to the right of the eighth green hit the flag and rattled into the cup for an eagle to give him a share of the lead on nine under.
It was a five-under front nine from the world number seven, his lowest at Augusta National.
At the 13th, as torrential rain began to fall, his second plummeted into the brightly coloured azaleas to the left of the green and he did well to salvage par.
He birdied the par-five 15th and then holed from 17 feet for another at the last to equal his lowest Masters round and ensure he will partner Reed in Sunday’s final round at 19:40 BST – which you can watch, live and uninterrupted on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website from 18:30.
The four-time major winner has history against American Reed, having been edged out by one hole in a classic Ryder Cup duel at Hazeltine in 2016.
A defiant McIlroy said: “Patrick has a three-shot lead but I feel like all the pressure is on him. He has got to protect that and he has some pretty big-time players behind him.”
Three of the last four winners at Augusta were ahead at the halfway stage and Reed calmly moved clear again with his fifth run of three consecutive birdies this week.
He dropped a shot at the short 12th but coaxed a downhill putt in at the next for his first eagle of the tournament, before swiftly adding another at the 15th by holing a magnificent chip over a greenside bunker.
Reed, runner-up in last year’s PGA but yet to land a major title, missed a short putt to bogey the 16th and a seven-foot birdie chance at the last, but is the first man since Lee Westwood in 2010 to play his first three rounds under 70 at the Masters.
When asked about McIlroy saying the pressure was all on him, Reed replied: “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.”
However, since 2010, South African Charl Schwartzel is the only man outside the world’s top 20 to claim the coveted Green Jacket.
The forecasted storms did not prove as dramatic as predicted on a third day that featured 11 sub-70 rounds.
One of those was put together by Rahm. The Spaniard, who was three over after Thursday’s opening round, made his second eagle of the week on Saturday and added five birdies to move to eight under.
The 23-year-old finished in a tie for 21st on his Masters debut last year.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who missed the cut on his Masters bow 12 months ago, produced his first sub-70 round with a superb 66.
He was level par at the halfway stage and nine shots off the pace, but leapt up the leaderboard with five successive birdies on the back nine.
However, the 27-year-old from Southport three-putted the final green for a 66 to drop back to six under.
Asked about his score he said: “I need to go out and do the same on Sunday. All I can do is try shoot the same score again. If I can get going on that front nine, having watched so many Masters Sundays, it will be a joy to be part of one.”
American favourites in the chasing pack
Fowler, still seeking his first major, displayed some masterful touches on the notoriously daunting greens and made five birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free round, while two-time champion Bubba Watson shares sixth place after seven birdies in a 68.
Former world number one Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion, began the third round level with McIlroy at four under but dropped two shots on the front nine, before birdies at inward par fives took him to five under, alongside close friend Thomas, the PGA champion, who had three birdies in a 70.
Dustin Johnson’s challenge was checked by driving into the trees and making a double bogey at the 11th and he is one further back.
Four-time champion Tiger Woods, playing alongside Ian Poulter in the fifth group of the morning, bogeyed the first two holes but made three birdies in a 72 to remain at four over.
It was an eventful day for three-time winner Phil Mickelson, who took a triple bogey seven at the first hole after some trouble with low-lying limbs of a tree, but chipped in for an eagle en route to a 74 and a seven over total.
World number five Justin Rose, twice runner-up at Augusta in the last three years, is 11 shots off the lead after adding a 71 to rounds of 72 and 70.
Rose compiled four birdies and said optimistically: “It’s a golf course you can have a big comeback on and on the Sunday the pins offer an opportunity to shoot in the low 60s.
“I’m surprised more guys haven’t had comebacks here – let’s hope that starts tomorrow.”
Former US Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, the 23-year-old from Sheffield, had four birdies and an eagle in a fine 67 to reach level par, while Paul Casey, playing with a marker in the first group of the day, returned a round of 69 and a two-over total.
World number 15 Tyrrell Hatton finished with two bogeys for a 73 and is six over, one ahead of Poulter, who had five bogeys in a 74.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/43686177