Midday Masters Round-Up: Scottish Open champions chase Masters glory
Two Scottish Open winners are in the Masters mix as the 81st Green Jacket joust heads for a thrilling conclusion at Augusta National today.
Justin Rose, who claimed the title in the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event at Royal Aberdeen in 2014, shares the lead with Sergio Garcia.
Rickie Fowler, who followed Rose on to the Scottish Open roll of honour at Gullane, trails the Ryder Cup team-mates by a shot after 54 holes in Georgia.
'I'm in a great position going into tomorrow,' said Rose, who finished joint-seond in the season's opening major two years ago.
'I think had I been two or three shots behind, I still would have felt that, which leads me to understand everybody's mind'‘set behind me.
'So it means that I have to stay positive tomorrow. I have to continue to play good, aggressive golf, as I did today.'
Rose carded the best round of the day - a five-under-par 67 - for a six-under-par 210 total.
He's bidding to add this title to a 2013 US Open triumph, having also become Olympic champion in Rio last year.
'I take a lot of confidence from the fact that I played in the final group with Jordan [Spieth] in 2015 and played well,' he said. 'I enjoyed that occasion.'
Fowler is chasing a first major victory, having been in contention in all four of them three years ago.
The 28-year-old was on the first tee on Thursday for the ceremony to honour Arnold Palmer and now has a chance to win the first Masters to be staged since the four-time champion passed away in September.
'I think it's going to be a long, hard'‘fought day,' said Fowler as he looked forward to the last-round battle.
'I don't think anyone is going to put themselves far enough out front where they can cruise in.'
It's been well documented that Sergio Garcia is bidding to win his first major on the day Seve Ballesteros would have turned 60.
But it would be just as pleasing for Garcia is he also joined the other Spaniard to win the Masters two times - Jose Maria Olazabal.
'I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I don't even know how much it would mean to be able to join both of my idols as a Masters winner.
'Obviously Seve couldn't do it, but JosÃ© sent me a beautiful message on Wednesday night, and he has a good touch when it comes down to those things. It really meant a lot.'
Garcia, who shares the lead with Justin Rose heading into the final round, is on the verge of making the people who said he could never win at Augusta National eat their words.
'I think it's the kind of place that if you are trying to fight against it, it's going to beat you down,' he said.
'So you've just got to roll with it and realise that sometimes you're going to get good breaks, like has happened to me a few times this week and sometimes you're going to get not'‘so'‘good breaks.'
The omens are good for Garcia. He won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January, as Danny Willett did last year before he claimed the green jacket.
Jordan Spieth reckons he's on course to pull off a comeback to match the New England Patriots' astonishing victory in this year's Super Bowl.
The 23-year-old was 10 shots off the lead after an opening 75, which included a 9 at the 15th, in Thursday's opening round of the Masters.
But, after fighting back with splendid efforts of 69 and 68, he is heading into the final round lying just two shots behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
Spieth, who has finished second, first and second at Augusta National in three appearances, is a real battler and will be aiming to use that quality to good effect on the last day.
'The Super Bowl this year is a very clean example of somebody that just refused to lose, and the entire team refused to lose,' he said of New England staging one of the greatest comebacks in sport to beat Atlanta Falcons in February.
'After the first round, I couldn't ask for much better than this. We fought back tremendously to have a chance to win this golf tournament.'
Spieth led in seven of the last eight rounds at Augusta National coming into this week and added: 'It's a new experience for me coming from behind on Sunday at the Masters, which is kind of fun to say.
'Tomorrow might free me up a bit, being behind. I plan to play aggressive because at this point, it's win or go home.'
Rory McIlroy reckons he needs to find the right balance between aggression and gung-ho as he bids to pull off one of the biggest last-day comebacks in Masters history.
Chasing a career Grand Slam, the Northern Irishman is six off the lead heading into the final round, with 10 players sitting between him and both Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.
Jack Burke jnr holds the record for the biggest final-day comeback, having made up eight shots when he triumphed in 1956.
'My best score round here is 65 and I'm going to need something like that, if not lower, to have a chance tomorrow,' said McIlroy. I just need to go out and play a good round of golf tomorrow.
'I feel like I play as aggressive as anyone round here, but you can't just start to gung-ho it around here and go for shots that aren't on. You still have to play smart.
'I'll just try to take my chances, birdie the par-5s, birdie some of the other holes and try not to make too many mistakes.'
In comparison to Rose, who was five-under for the last seven holes, McIlroy failed to pick up any birdies over the closing stretch as he had to settle for a third-round 71.
'I had some chances on the back nine I could have converted,' said the world No 2.
'I think I probably could have shot a 67 or 68 but there were just a few too many wasted opportunities.'