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British interest high in last round

Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Ian Woosnam kept British interest well and truly alive as the Masters built towards another gripping climax at Augusta today.

Montgomerie, joint ninth with a round to go and describing the day as "an important one in my career," birdied the long second from just over the green and then saved par from 12 feet at the tricky third.

At four-under-par he was lying joint fifth, three behind Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal and in a group that also included world number one David Duval, who leapt out of the pack with an eagle on the second and then birdies at the seventh and eighth.

Westwood, playing with Tiger Woods, missed a six-foot birdie chance on the first and then made a bizarre birdie at the next.

Like Montgomerie just over the back in two, he left his delicate chip on the ridge just a few feet in front of him, but then sank a double-breaking 30-foot putt for a four.

That lifted the 25-year-old to three under and after handing the stroke back on the next when his pitch to the tiny landing area spun back down a bank towards him, he made two on Augusta's hardest hole, the 205-yard fourth, and then three on the 435-yard fifth to join Montgomerie and Duval in fifth spot.

Westwood was paired with 1997 champion Tiger Woods, who shocked the huge gallery following him by three-putting from only eight feet on the opening green.

The first putt caught the edge of the hole, but ran nearly three feet past and he misread that one as well.

It fired the 23-year-old up and he stalked around the second tee while waiting to drive off.

He too went over the green in two, chipped 12 feet past, but made that for birdie, then holed a 10-footer for par at the third to remain two under.

Woosnam had seven strokes to make up when he set off at level par, but after going over the first green and bogeying, the Welshman, winner in 1991, birdied the second, third, fifth and eighth for an outward 33.

He was up to three under as a result and by no means out of it just yet.

Olazabal opened with a par four, as did Australian Greg Norman, who at six under was just one behind.

Perhaps there was a lucky omen for Olazabal in the performance of 19-year-old Sergio Garcia.

Having become on Friday the first British amateur champion to make the halfway cut since Peter McEvoy in 1978 Garcia's closing 73 in the blustery conditions made him top amateur.

Garcia, in all probability playing his last round as an amateur, was involved in a thrilling battle with Americans Matt Kuchar and Tom McKnight, the player who beat him in the semi-finals of the US Amateur last year.

McKnight was one ahead of Kuchar and two in front of Garcia with 18 holes to go, but shot a 77 to finish two behind the Spanish teenager while Kuchar had 78 to be four behind.

Garcia is expected to make his professional debut at the Spanish Open in 11 days' time.

The aim of every player was to give himself an opportunity with nine to play and Duval had done that with his outward 33.

And when he then birdied the 485-yard par four 10th, Duval, chasing a third successive tournament victory and fifth of the year, was five under and in a tie for third place, just two back.

The player he was tied with was none other than Westwood, who had his fourth birdie of the day at the seventh to be in real contention for a major on the last day for the first time in his career.

Woods looked to have done terminal damage to his hopes, however, when he double-bogeyed the fifth while Westwood was making birdie there. The world number two slumped to level par, seven adrift.

The same hole cost Montgomerie a bogey and left him four behind and Woosnam bogeyed the 455-yard 11th to slip five back, but the good news for them was that Olazabal and Norman did not birdie the par five second.

Westwood found himself only one off the lead when Olazabal and Norman both bogeyed the third, the former by going over the green and the latter by three-putting.

The Australian's five dropped him into a tie for second place with Westwood, who had to be content with a par five on the uphill eighth after his pitch ran through the green, and Steve Pate.

Duval was no longer there, however, as off a poor drive at the 11th he pulled his approach into the water, then chipped over the green.

In the end he did well to make a double bogey six, but it left him joint fifth.

Montgomerie had a second bogey on the seventh and he and Woosnam were four behind at two under.


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