Garcia moves into prime position for green jacket at Augusta

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Sergio Garcia took a huge step towards ending his long wait for a major title by opening up a three-shot lead over nearest rival Justin Rose on the final day of the Masters at Augusta.

The Spaniard, a perennial nearly man in majors boasting 22 top-10 finishes without a victory, was the co-leader with Rose at the start of Sunday, and improved his position with birdies at the first and third to reach eight under for the tournament.

While Garcia was on the up, his nearest rivals struggled on the opening holes. Rose bogeyed the fifth to fall three off the pace, Rickie Fowler was a shot further back and Jordan Spieth sat six behind after playing his first half-dozen holes in two over.

It would be particularly poignant for Garcia to win the green jacket, with Sunday marking what would have been the 60th birthday of  one of his idols - the late, great Seve Ballesteros.

The 37-year-old was the only player from the last three groups to be under par for the day early on. Fowler was in a tie for third with Paul Casey, who was on the charge at four under through nine, while Ryan Moore and Adam Scott shared fifth at three under.

Garcia started with a fine approach at the first that left a simple five-footer for birdie and great bunker play at the second provided another presentable chance that he missed on the left.

It failed to derail his early momentum, though, and a wonderful bounced pitch up the hill at three paved the way for another birdie.

Spieth had it all to do after bogeying three and birdieing just one of his opening six holes.

Fowler picked up some early momentum after a well-judged approach at the third yielded a birdie, but he handed the stroke back at the fourth after failing to reach the green and another bogey followed at the fifth.

Further down the leaderboard, Martin Kaymer was taking full advantage of favourable pin positions and calm conditions as he made six birdies in seven holes between nine and 15, to reach five under for his round and red figures for the tournament.

Rory McIlroy reached the turn at one under, but was still seven adrift of Garcia.