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Tiger Woods surges into lead

AUGUSTA, APRIL 10. Tiger Woods tied a Masters record with seven straight birdies and surged past Chris DiMarco into the lead on Sunday while finishing up the weather-delayed third round at Augusta National.

Woods birdied the final three holes on the front nine on Saturday before darkness halted play. Returning the next morning, the three-time Masters champion birdied his first four holes, capped off by a 10-footer at the par-5 13th that drew a defiant pump of his right fist and pushed his score 13 under.

Tournament record

He tied the tournament record of seven straight birdies, set by Steve Pate over the same string of holes in 1999.

DiMarco, who started the day with a four-stroke lead, quickly went the wrong way with a double bogey at No. 10. Before that, he had only one bogey in his first 45 holes, managing par or birdie on everything else.

The 36-hole leader surrendered his seemingly comfortable margin in the first three holes on Sunday, and fell two strokes behind Woods through the 13th.

Woods was hitting his irons brilliantly, leaving himself plenty of birdie chances. He also capitalised on a break with his final shot on Saturday. After teeing off at No. 10, the horn sounded to end play for the day. Woods had the option of finishing the hole, but decided to quit when he saw a big chunk of mud on his ball. That gave him the option of marking the spot with a tee and picking up on Sunday with a clean ball.

"It was a no-brainer," he said. "It was a great break that they blew the horn. ... When we saw that (mud) down there, it was nice to known I could put the tee in the ground."

Woods' birdie streak ended at the 14th, when his second shot funnelled to the far right side of the green with the flag on the left. He needed three putts to get down, taking his first bogey of the round.

Fine weather

After finishing up the third round, the golfers will return to the course for the final 18 holes. There were no problems with the weather — it was a sunny day, with warm temperatures expected.

On Saturday, after a pair of 5-under-par 67s in the first two rounds, DiMarco blocked out raucous cheers for Woods by lifting his score to 13 under halfway through the third round, shooting 33 on the front nine before play was stopped. — AP

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