Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after making a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the third round at the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AUGUSTA Rory McIlroy takes aim at a career Grand Slam while leader Patrick Reed eyes Augusta National records and a first major title in Sunday's final-round showdown of the 82nd Masters.

An emotional back-nine drama with golf history at stake was set to unfold in cool, overcast conditions among the Georgia pines with Reed atop the leaderboard at 14-under 202 through 54 holes and last-pair partner McIlroy three strokes adrift.

"We're both trying to do something pretty special," McIlroy said.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy can capture his fifth major title and his first green jacket to complete the career Slam, at least one win in each of the four major championships.

"I want to keep the pressure on him," McIlroy said. "If I can get off to a good solid start, that will be enough to keep me hanging in there.

"If I can stay within two or three going to the back nine, that's when things can happen out there."

Reed could become the first player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Masters and has a chance to break the 72-hole course record of 18-under 270 shared by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

"I almost feel like I can kick it into another gear and go even deeper," Reed said. "If I hit that one shot, I can pump myself up and try to get going and try to flip that switch."

McIlroy outscored Reed by two strokes each day when playing alongside Reed on the first two days of the 2014 Masters, but the biggest memory of them as rivals was from the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, when US firebrand Reed edged Europe's McIlroy 1 up in an epic clash.

"It's probably one of the best matches we ever played. It was probably also one of the most exhausting matches we ever played," Reed said.

Patrick Reed watches his shot on the 12th hole during the third round at the Masters. Photo: Chris Carlson/AP Photo

"The biggest thing I was able to pull from it is I was head-to-head with Rory and able to put together a really good round. When he tried to make a counter I was able to always stay ahead and keep going."

McIlroy will draw inspiration from memories of a 2011 meltdown in the final round of the Masters, when he fired an 80 to squander a potential wire-to-wire win.

"I've given myself another chance, another shot at doing something special," McIlroy said.

"Seven years have gone by. To finally get the opportunity again to see if I can put all those wrongs right is something I'm looking forward to."

Reed isn't the only golfer who could continue a run of first time major winners that has seen eight of them capture titles at the past nine majors.

American Rickie Fowler was third, five strokes adrift on 207, with Spaniard Jon Rahm another shot back as both chase their first major crown.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, the 2016 British Open winner, was fifth on 209 with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and first-time major win hopefuls Marc Leishman of Australia and Tommy Fleetwood of England on 210.

Jack Burke owns the record Masters last-round comeback to win at eight strokes, which means three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas need a record rally from 211. World number one Dustin Johnson, the 2016 US Open winner faces an even tougher challenge from 212.

Thomas and Johnson are also fighting for the number one ranking, which Thomas would take with a victory no matter where Johnson finishes.

Rahm and Spieth also have a chance at overtaking them both for number one with a triumph.

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