A look at some of the top questions posed to (and answered by) Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy following the third round of the 2018 Masters, where Reed will take a three-shot lead over McIlroy into Sunday’s final round.
What’s your mind‑set after Rory has chipped in for eagle and your lead is gone from the day before? What are you thinking walking up there?
REED: The biggest thing is I knew that I was in a good spot to at least make birdie on that hole to try to regain the lead. But I just know from that situation, I’m sitting in a good situation where I will still have one hole extra to play.
So whether he makes birdie or eagle on a hole, I still have that hole to play, and really, it wasn’t as much going up against Rory was it was going out and posting a good number, because you have so many of these guys that have played some really solid golf coming into this week and that were making a charge today; I just needed to get myself going and make some birdies and get it started, and I was able to do that on 8.
Rory was in here and seems very, very confident. He also seems very confident about playing tomorrow against you. How do you feel that dynamic is going to play out tomorrow? You’ve obviously been up against him before. Hazeltine will get brought up. But just you and him going at it tomorrow?
REED: It’s going to be a lot of fun. Obviously we’re both playing really solid golf, and you know, 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.
But really, I’m just going to do my thing and stick to my game plan and go out and enjoy my Sunday.
Can you talk about what it was like being involved with Rory at that match at Hazeltine there and how that ranks in your career, and what does winning that match do for you going into the final round of a major in this position?
REED: It’s probably one of the best matches we ever played. It was probably also one of the most exhausting matches we ever played. That first eight holes we played, there was so much emotion and so much good golf and kind of grind; that I felt like at that point, it was just kind of like, let’s go and try to play some normal golf and try to get going.
But, you know, really, I mean, biggest thing I can just pull from it is I was going up against‑‑ head‑to‑head with Rory and was able to put together a really good round, and when he tried to make a counter, I was able to always stay ahead and keep going.
You know, really, it’s completely different. You’re talking about match play to stroke play and you’re also talking about you have Rickie, Jon Rahm, Stenson, Fleetwood and Bubba right behind us. I’m not going to be there focusing on Rory or really focusing on any of those guys. I’m just going to go out and try to play the golf course and try to play some good golf.
How do you think the atmosphere will be here tomorrow, the final pairing at the year’s first major here at the Masters, compared to that match at Hazeltine?
REED: It will be calmer. There’s a lot of stuff that you can do at Ryder Cup that you can’t do at Augusta National. (Laughter). It’s going to be‑‑ you’re talking about polar opposites.
You’re talking about a match‑play tournament and you’re talking about a major championship. 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. It’s just going to be one of those days you just need to go out and be able to put your nose to the grind and just play some golf.
(1, -14, 69-66-67)
We all remember the events of Hazeltine a little while ago, but how important is it for you tomorrow to not get into a head‑to‑head struggle with Patrick?
McILROY: Yeah, there’s a lot more players in this golf tournament than just Patrick Reed and I. You’ve got Jon on 8, Rickie on 9, and even looking at Henrik on 7 there.
I know guys can get off to hot starts on a Sunday here, and you get a bit of momentum and do something‑‑ Rickie was 5‑under for the front nine today; if he goes 5‑under for the front nine again tomorrow, golf tournament is wide open.
It’s definitely not a two‑horse race at this point. There’s a lot more guys. I told myself today, leaderboards are huge here; it’s hard to miss them. But I said to myself, don’t concentrate on them too much. Try not to look at them. It’s hard not to, but ‑‑ because I just wanted to set myself a target today and go for that.
Tomorrow, I’ll obviously know what Patrick Reed is doing, but apart from that, I’m going to set myself a target, try to get to that, and hopefully it’s enough.
I know it’s not a two‑man duel like at Hazeltine, but can you talk about the match that you had with Patrick there and what do you expect the atmosphere to be like tomorrow with the two of you out in the last at Augusta?
McILROY: I think it will be slightly different. It’s not Europe versus America. It’s hopefully not such a partisan‑‑ or bipartisan‑‑ partisan? ‑‑ partisan crowd. But Patrick went to Augusta State. He’s not a local, but he played very good golf here when he went to college, and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of support.
So yeah, but I know that there’s people out there that are wishing me well, and you know, hoping that I play well. So it won’t be quite as intense as that Ryder Cup match, I don’t think. I think we’ll obviously still be feeling it. It’s the last round of a major championship, and we’re both going for‑‑ Patrick is going for his first and I’m going for something else (laughter). It’s going to be good fun (laughter).
On the TV interview, you kind of painted this picture a little bit more of almost like you were the underdog or the less‑popular guy. You used the phrase “spoil the party.” Do you really believe that, or is that almost a mental approach to kind of guard yourself from having to battle him?
McILROY: Yeah, honestly, I feel like Patrick has got a three‑shot lead. I feel like all the pressure is on him. He’s got to go out and protect that, 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 okay. I mean, I don’t know‑‑ I used the term “spoil the party”; I don’t know how much support he’ll have compared to me or whatever, but as I said, this isn’t a two‑horse race. There’s still a few guys in this golf tournament, and we have to treat it that way.
Typically in the final round of the tournament, how much talk do you do with the other player in the group, and how do the dynamics change in the final round of a major?
McILROY: Yeah, it depends. It depends who you’re paired with. You know, Henrik and I talked a little bit today, but not too much.
Yeah, I mean, there’s probably less chat; of course there is. You’re trying to concentrate on what you’re doing. Maybe a little more dialogue with your caddie trying to stay relaxed or stay loose.
Harry and I were chuckling to ourselves when we found out that I hit it 132 today going up the seventh, so that was a nice little tension reliever I guess.
Yeah, I can’t imagine there’s going to be much chat out there tomorrow. Not that I have anything against Patrick. We’ve actually got quite a good relationship, but at the end of the day, it’s business and we’re both trying to do something pretty special.
(2, -11, 69-71-65)
Credits: ASAP Sports, Getty Images