ERIN, Wisconsin, June 15 (Reuters) - Canada's Adam Hadwin tied a U.S. Open record by firing six consecutive birdies on Thursday to roar up the leaderboard and into contention for a first major.
Playing the back nine first at the links-style Erin Hills layout, Hadwin was sputtering along at two-over par through eight holes when he suddenly clicked into gear with a birdie at the par-five 18th.
He then roared through the turn with five straight birdies from the first before the streak came to a screeching halt with a bogey at the par-three sixth.
He would add one more birdie, at the eighth, for a four-under 68, three back of pacesetter Rickie Fowler.
Hadwin becomes just the third golfer to string together six birdies at a U.S. Open, joining George Burns (1982) and Andy Dillard (1992), who both accomplished the feat at Pebble Beach.
"You don't often see that in a U.S. Open," Hadwin told reporters. "But there's way too many holes out here where one bad shot could be a double bogey quickly.
"So I did a really good job of staying present, staying focused on the next shot.
"I was a couple over early, but I hit some good shots, made a couple putts and next thing you know I got it back on par."
The 29-year-old has only one PGA Tour title on his resume, getting his maiden win at the Valspar Championship earlier this year, but he showed in March he can get hot quickly.
The Canadian finished second at the CareerBuilder Challenge thanks in part to a sensational 59 in the third round.
"I've done a good job of getting myself in position to win some golf tournaments," said Hadwin. "I finally was able to close the deal this year at Valspar.
"I think the next thing is contend at big events with the best players in the world, and that would be majors, WGCs, and thankfully I'm off to a good start this week."
While his round featured seven birdies, Hadwin said it was a actually a par that was the turning point.
Scrapping along at two over, Hadwin was in danger of falling further off the pace when he found himself in the knee-high fescue on the 15th.
Instead of being aggressive, Hadwin played conservative, laying up and salvaging par.
"Hit it in the hay and contemplated going for it a little bit," said Hadwin. "Chose to lay up and hit it to six feet.
"That turned things around for me a little bit. Got on a hot streak there and turned the corner." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)