Tour Confidential: Who Wins Saturday’s Duel Between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy?

April 9, 2016
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Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, two of golf’s biggest stars, will have all eyes on them when they are paired together for the third round of the Masters on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club. Spieth shot a 2-over 74 during Friday’s second round and leads McIlroy by one shot. McIlroy fired a 1-under 71 on Friday to secure his place in the final group. They tee off at 2:50 p.m. EST.

But who comes out on top on Saturday? Our panel answers. Join the conversation and leave your picks in the comments below or tweet us at @golf_com.

It’s Jordan Spieth vs. Rory McIlroy is Saturday’s third round. Make your pick!

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Ooooh man, that’s tough. Rory is hitting it much more crisply, which is paramount in the wind. But Jordan is the ultimate grinder and it’s sure to be a brutal day. I’ll take Rory, by a shot.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: This suddenly U.S. Open-style venue suits Jordan’s game better. (Remember, Rory won the Open when Congressional was marshmallow-soft.) By day’s end, Spieth will hold the lead at Augusta National at the end of a seventh consecutive round, bumping one Arnold Palmer from the record book in the process.

Alan Bastable, executive editor, I’m with Godich (and not just because we’re sharing a cheese plate in the media center): The faster and windier Augusta gets, the less it suits McIlroy’s booming tee shots and towering irons. On a baked-out, windblown track like we’ll see Saturday, I’ll take Spieth and his wicked-good short game.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, SI Golf Group: Rory has been impressive, but give me Spieth by two shots. He’s the better putter, and he’s carrying less Augusta baggage than McIlroy.

Josh Sens, contributor, Spieth. He got rattled today by the pace of play warning and still righted himself. And his putter is working quite nicely, thank you.

Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF Magazine: Both McIlroy and Spieth made crucial par-saving putts on 18, but I think Rory gained more momentum today. I like him by a shot, and they enter the final round deadlocked at the top.

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Cameron Morfit, senior writer, GOLF Magazine: Rory is hitting it better. I’ll take him in the wind.

Jessica Marksbury, associate editor, GOLF Magazine: I’ll take Jordan’s clutch short game over Rory’s superior ballstriking.

Josh Berhow, staff producer, Rory was my pick to win earlier this week and I’m sticking with him. He just seems so focused, and with the way he closed out his round with that clutch par — and fist-pump — on 18, I’m betting on momentum.

Sean Zak, assistant editor, Spieth. Dude has been just slightly off with some of his approaches, but the other parts of his game are clicking. If those approaches are on, he’s bound to shoot in the 60s again regardless of wind.

Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia producer, Rors. He redeemed himself after ending the first round in a bit of a slump, and now he’s got the momentum. Spieth still holds the lead after 10 consecutive rounds at Augusta, but he lost ground. McIlroy’s five birdies Friday gave him a taste, and now his mouth is watering for that green jacket. My answer on Sunday might be different, so I hope these two stick together all the way.

Peter Bukowski, associate editor, Jordan Spieth shot 66 on Thursday despite not really being on his game. The 74 we saw Friday seemed much more indicative of where his game is right now and Rory McIlory is the only player in the tournament to have played two rounds under par, despite brutal conditions. Give me the guy playing better and more motivated. The career slam is now just 36 holes away for Rory.