Day Three of The Masters

Rory McIlroy tries to get fired up on Day Three
Rory McIlroy tries to get fired up on Day Three

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were left to wonder what might have been after their third rounds of the 79th Masters on Saturday, as they missed a chance to close the gap on runaway leader Jordan Spieth.

Starting the day 12 shots adrift of Spieth, 14-time major winner Woods and world number one McIlroy had the chance to pile on the pressure when they both reached the turn in 32 at Augusta National.

However, both players could only cover the back nine in 36 due to late bogeys and had to settle for rounds of 68 to finish six under par.

"I had it going there for a little bit, made a stupidly good birdie on 13 and a stupidly bad bogey on 14. The score realistically should have been six or seven (under) today," said Woods.

"I'm going to have to post something low, shoot 30 or 31 (on the front nine) and continue it on the back nine, at least give myself a chance going into the back nine.

"Right now it's in Jordan's hands. He could put a substantial gap between himself and the rest of the field. He is playing steady Eddie and that's all he needs to do; handle the par fives, stay away from bogey and miss it in the correct spot."

McIlroy was six under par for his round after 15 holes but bogeyed the 16th and 18th to see his chances of completing the career grand slam at the first attempt suffer a major blow.

''I'm going to need something basically around 61, 62 (tomorrow) to have a real chance. I'm not sure that's going to happen but we'll see,'' said McIlroy, who is looking to become just the sixth player in history to win all four major titles.

''I've really just tried to treat it like a normal golf tournament or treat it like any other year. Any other year that I've come to the Masters, I've done the same things.

''I wasn't approaching it like I was trying to win the grand slam. I was approaching it like I was trying to win another golf tournament. So I don't think it's really had any impact on the way I've played this week.''

Spieth ended the day on 16 under and heads into the final round four shots ahead of nearest rival Justin Rose, who is four shots back. Former champion Phil Mickelsen is one back from Rose after a thrilling round of 67.