3rd round at Masters a day of wasted chances for McIlroy

Rory Mc Ilroy of Northern Ireland hits to the 18th green during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday

Speaking of Sergio, after several lifetimes' worth of bad breaks, Garcia was the recipient of a break so good it carried historical echoes.

Rickie Fowler, also seeking his first major title, had two late birdies in a 71 and is one stroke back in solo third.

Rose, who became the first English victor of the US Open for 43 years at Merion in 2013, carded a third round of 67 to finish six under par, a total matched by Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia.

Spieth had a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play in his Masters debut in 2014 and was runner-up to Bubba Watson.

Justin Rose of England, who has captured one major title and another that felt like it, put himself in position for his first Green Jacket on Saturday. Hoffman battled for par on the last hole to stay just two shots behind.

The Englishman produced an impressive third round 68 that included six birdies and kept him on the fringes of contention.

"The key to the strong finish was the patience that I showed on the front nine", Rose, whose best Masters finish was a tie for second in 2015.

"I took advantage of the par 5s - 8, 13, 15 - and stole a couple more", Rose said. The Big Easy had three double bogeys, and it got ugly at the end.

Hagestad shot a 2-over-par 74 Saturday and is at 5-over-par. McIlroy, a four-time major victor needing a Masters win for a career Grand Slam, birdied two of the first three holes but could not mount a concerted challenge. If he can back into contention after his rocky start in this one, it's hard not to wonder: Is every Masters going to be his to win or lose, for the next decade or longer? Ballesteros, who died in 2011, was the first European to win the Masters in 1980 and backed it up in 1983.

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If you are into a Renaissance of English golfers, then Rose is your man. "And protecting the lead, you don't want to play aggressive".

"I mean, I guess the golf course was Tiger-proofed at one point", Spieth said.

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Rose could use another back nine like he had in the third round. Fowler, the first player to get to five under on Saturday, had to make a 14-footer to salvage bogey. The four-time major champion shot a 1-under 71 in Round 3, and is even-par for the tournament.

On No. 13, Garcia thought he put his second shot in the water that guards the green. The ball actually bounced softly enough off the side of the bank to stop halfway down before he chipped up to tap-in range. Then he added, "I'm not getting ahead of myself". While all eyes were on the struggling Hoffman and scrambling Garcia, Rose really wasn't noticed until he birdied 17 and 18 to finish off a 67.

In 2015, Spieth won in record-setting fashion, and unless you've been living in a cave for the past 12 months you know that he was on his way to repeating a year ago before making a quadruple bogey at the par-3 12th in the final round. And, amid a leaderboard packed with marquee names, Fowler will stand a shot off the lead at minus-five.

The 40-year-old American, once known for an unruly blond mullet but all cleaned up these days, squandered a chance to play in the final group today with a series of errant shots coming down the stretch.

"I think that I feel like I actually I can actually play golf again, which is great, when I play like that", Day said. Plus, as he said with a laugh, "I know that anything can happen".

So far in this 81st Masters, the breaks have been nearly exclusively good for Garcia, who fired a third-round, 2-under 70 - nearly five shots better than his third-round average in 13 previous Saturdays at Augusta - to maintain his share of the lead. Spieth knocked his approach from the pine straw 230 yards away to about 30 feet and almost made the eagle putt, settling for birdie instead.

Nothing irritated him more than the fifth hole. "We fought back tremendously to have a chance to win the tournament".

It didn't matter. Garcia curled in a 12-foot birdie that gave him the green jacket.

Relying on ghosts don't usually get you very far, so, perhaps, Spieth was inspired by his partner Mickelson, who hit a comparable shot to that threading-the-pine-needle approach (but between the trees, instead of around) in 2010 on the same hole, en route to his second Masters victory. He is now just two strokes off the lead.

Lee Westwood recovered from a disappointing second round to fire a brilliant four-under-par round of 68 to move into red figures for the week. Not even Rory McIlroy's quest for a career grand slam of titles could match the dream of a Spanish succession at the Augusta National Club. "That's all you want but really it starts on the back nine on Sunday". He was six shots behind. The ensuing double bogey dropped him out of the lead and he finished his round at 4-under.

Matt Kuchar is in the clubhouse with a 67, leaving him three shots behind at 5 under.



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