April 8, 2018 / 12:07 AM / 16 days ago

Quiet achiever Fleetwood builds on back-nine birdie blitz

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Tommy Fleetwood might be the most anonymous player ranked in the top dozen in the world, and five consecutive birdies at Augusta National on Saturday did not do much to change that perception.

Tommy Fleetwood of England hits of the 4th tee during third round play of the 2018 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

After starting his birdie run at the par-three 12th, Fleetwood arrived at the 17th hole needing two more birdies to match the U.S. Masters record of seven in a row.

After sticking his approach shot to 15 feet, Fleetwood walked to the green to polite applause from the gallery in the half-empty grandstand.

“I don’t know which one (he is),” said a young man in the gallery, not aware of the difference between Fleetwood and his playing competitor Adam Hadwin.

Fleetwood missed the birdie putt, and then three-putted from long range at the last after his approach shot trickled back to the front of the green.

A six-under-par 66 left him tied for sixth, eight strokes behind leader Patrick Reed with one round remaining.

“It’s strange coming off Augusta with a 66, but it was a very, very good day,” said Fleetwood, 27, who missed the cut on his Masters debut last year.

Tommy Fleetwood of England hits off the second tee during third round play of the 2018 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

“It was great to get on that (birdie) run. I had a chance on 17, too, but it wasn’t to be.”

With his slight build and non-descript appearance, Fleetwood remains a stranger to all but hard-core golf fans, but the 27-year-old from Southport, England is no stranger to his peers.

“It was a pleasure to watch some tremendous golf,” said Canadian Hadwin, speaking to a small group of reporters, said of Fleetwood’s five-birdie stretch.

“There’s a reason he’s 12th in the world.”

Asked what was particularly impressive about Fleetwood’s game, Hadwin said: “Everything.”

“When he gets off line he knows what to do. He’s got a great short game, hits it real solid off the tee, hits his irons great, wedges great, putts well. What more do you want?”

Reporting by Andrew Both

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