Rose takes the initiative in Masters tussle

Justin Rose was in the ascendancy at the Masters as the Englishman moved into a two-shot lead at Augusta with seven holes of his final round to play.

The Olympic champion trailed fellow overnight leader Sergio Garcia by three strokes through five on Sunday, but responded in emphatic fashion with birdies at the next three holes.

Rose, whose only previous major title came at the 2013 U.S. Open, was eight under for the tournament through 11 holes, two shots clear of perennial nearly man Garcia - who made back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11 - and a surging Thomas Pieters.

Belgium's Pieters, one of four co-leaders after two rounds, made four straight birdies between the 12th and 15th holes to dramatically move into the running for a maiden major triumph.

Jordan Spieth had started the day just two strokes back and was fancied by many to win a second green jacket in three years.

But the American was nine shots off the pace and found the water at 12 in scenes reminiscent of his famous meltdown at the same hole a year ago, which left the door open for Danny Willett to win the tournament.

Rickie Fowler, who started the round one behind Rose and Garcia, also struggled, slipping back to three under for the tournament with back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12.

As some of the favourites struggled, Matt Kuchar charged up to fourth place, following three straight birdies between 12 and 14 with a Masters moment to remember - a hole-in-one at the 16th.

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