4/8/2018 12:57:45 AM

Birdie binge lifts Fleetwood into Masters contention

Birdie binge lifts Fleetwood into Masters contention

Augusta, USA: Britain's Tommy Fleetwood bagged five consecutive back-nine birdies in Saturday's third round of the Masters, leaping into contention for his first major title by taking advantage of rain-soaked Augusta National.

The 27-year-old Englishman fired a 6-under par 66 -- his career-low round in a major tournament -- to stand on 6-under 210 after 54 holes.

The long-haired ball-blaster would have had the low round of the week alone had he not missed a 4-foot par putt at the 18th hole.

"It's weird to walk off and feel disappointed with a 66," Fleetwood said.

"The course was playing a lot easier. Greens were really soft... if you were going to shoot low today was the day to do it."

Fleetwood reached the green in two at the par-5 second and two-putted from 58 feet for birdie, then closed the front nine with a 5-foot birdie putt.

He rescued par from seven feet at 10 after an approach into the trees then missed a 7-footer for birdie at 11 before beginning his birdie run.

Fleetwood drained a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th, then two-putted from 50 feet for birdie at the par-5 13th and dropped his approach at 14 two feet from the cup and tapped in for birdie.

After missing a 24-foot eagle putt, Fleetwood tapped in for birdie at the par-5 15th and then sank a 7-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th.

"It was nice to get something going on the back nine," Fleetwood said.

More than 50 years after the Beatles' US invasion, their fellow Merseysider was inspiring Masters talk of another British rock group, "Fleetwood Mac", because his charge coincided with a surge by Rory McIlroy, chasing a career Grand Slam and his first Masters green jacket.

A back-nine surge by leader Patrick Reed made sure everyone could forget the song title puns, and Fleetwood himself was never thinking about topping the leaderboard.

"Today was just about doing the best I could, first weekend I've ever played at Augusta," said Fleetwood, who missed the cut last year in his Masters debut. "I wasn't thinking about the lead at all. Clearly I got closer. It was nice playing with that adrenaline as I got closer and closer."

Fleetwood won his fourth career European Tour title this year at Abu Dhabi. He finished fourth in last year's US Open in his best major showing.

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