Joe Biddle: Masters magic in high gear

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Patrick Reed reacts after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole during the third round at the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The young guns of golf have taken over Augusta National, at least producing a coup so far for this year’s Masters.

They should have a history making golf shootout Sunday afternoon. As everyone one who has witnessed a Masters tournament, it doesn’t start until the back nine holes on Sunday.

Patrick Reed, a 27-year-old Texan, held a three-stroke lead over a field of hungry golfers eager to leave wearing the coveted green jacket. Reed had eagles on holes 13 and 15 as he finished at minus-14 and atop the leaderboard. 

The nearest competitor is Northern Ireland golfer Roy McIlroy, who starts Sunday three strokes behind Reed at minus-11. He birdied No. 18 Saturday to sleep on.

Reed is ready to take on all comers. Let the good times roll.

There are a hand-full or more nipping at Reed’s golf shoes that are just as eager to walk away with their first green jacket.

Reed went to Augusta State University for college, but their golf team only gets to play the Augusta National course once a year, so he doesn’t have a home field advantage.

His college coach was Josh Gregory, who now serves as Reed’s personal coach.
“Nobody in Patrick’s team is surprised,’’ Gregory was quoted after Reed opened with a 69 in the first round. “It’s doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve always believed his creativity fits Augusta National perfectly.’’

Rickie Fowler is third at minus-9, followed by Jon Rohm at minus-8 and Henrick Stenson another shot back. Stenson is 42 years old, the only one capable of making up a seven-shot deficit.

On Saturday, there were eight major champions in the top 14 on the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods will not challenge Sunday afternoon. He is not quite up to the miraculous comeback he is undergoing. Phil Mickelson won’t be around after Sunday’s round. Saturday’s round was filled with young’uns shooting 65s and 66s. Get the message?

I imagine those who run Augusta National and the Masters are not doing backflips to see so many low scores Saturday. When Tiger Woods was at his best and scorching the field, the course was lengthened and made more difficult after the next tournament. 

If Sunday’s leaderboard mimics Saturday’s they may make more alterations to the course before 2019’s tournament. Stay tuned.

“Hopefully we’ll get some fireworks and have some fun,’’ Reed said Saturday. 

Reed posted rounds of 69-66-67 through 54 holes. That is the lowest 54-hole score in Masters history. 

I doubt Reed will finish with another round in the mid-60s Sunday, but then on the other hand he may prove me wrong, not the first time that has happened.

Barring a miracle, there are no golfers over 40 years old, who will wear the green jacket Sunday. The coup will reign.

Dilly-Dilly.  

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