Rory McIlroy refuses to concede Masters defeat as Dustin Johnson boasts strong Sunday lead

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Rory McIlroy refuses to concede Masters defeat as Dustin Johnson boasts strong Sunday lead

Rory McIlroy vowed to fight until the bitter end in his quest for his elusive first Green Jacket but admitted his Masters race is all but run with the imperious Dustin Johnson disappearing into the distance.

The Northern Irishman maintained his surge through the field and into the top ten but the World No 1 is almost out of sight after a superb 65 gave him a four-shot lead over his nearest pursuers heading into today’s final round.

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McIlroy played super golf again yesterday at Augusta in shooting 67 but he will need something superhuman today to overhaul the runaway American. From eights shots back he would have to equal the Masters record set by Jack Burke in 1956 to do so.

“I have probably given myself too much to do after the 75 on the first day but I will try to out and shoot a good score tomorrow,” said McIlroy.

“I haven’t really made a good run here before on a Sunday so it is about time.”

McIlroy’s feeble first round left him relying on no-one streaking away at the head of the field if he was to fight his way back into it but Johnson, the co-leader after round two, came out like an express train yesterday reaching the turn in a record-equalling 30.

The laconic Johnson eased up a little on the back nine but an excellent up and down at the last enabled the American to card the lowest round of the day.

The pressure he applied led to some spectacular implosions. Justin Thomas got wet and downcast and Jon Rahm hot and bothered. The Spaniard attempted to break his six iron over his knee after a nightmare double bogey at the eighth which also included an amateur-hour topped fairway wood.

Johnson’s 16-under mark equalled the 54-hole record at Augusta and gave him a precious cushion heading into the final round.

“A few more would be a little more comfortable,” he said. “There are so many really good players right around the lead. I’m going to have to go out and play well if I’m going to win tomorrow.

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