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Fleetwood, Thomas and Poulter set second-round pace at Firestone

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Fleetwood, Thomas and Poulter set second-round pace at Firestone
Aug 3, 2018; Akron, OH, USA; PGA golfer Tommy Fleetwood tees off on the 17th hole during the second round of the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports   -   Copyright  Brian Spurlock(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas plundered Firestone Country Club to join Ian Poulter in the second-round lead at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Friday.

Englishman Fleetwood carded seven birdies in a seven-under-par 63, while American Thomas drove the ball superbly for a 64 that included seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch.

First round leader Poulter managed a solid 67 to match Fleetwood and Thomas at 11-under 129 with the late starters only beginning their rounds.

Fleetwood, who contended at both the U.S. and British Opens this summer, has emerged as a player of the highest calibre, though still seeking a breakthrough win in the United States.

“It’s great we keep getting in position,” he told Golf Channel.

“We’re obviously doing a lot of things right. Winning is hard. Hopefully eventually it will happen but it’s great to put myself back in position again.”

World number three Thomas was pleased his score reflected the quality of his game as he warms up to defend his PGA Championship title next week.

“I know I’ve been close for a while,” he said.

“I just haven’t really had the results or the score to (reflect) it.

“I’m just trying to stay patient, continue to work on the things that we’re working on and glad that’s it’s showed the last two days.”

Poulter was also a happy man.

“I think it was pretty good,” said the Englishman.

“It’s always tough to follow a near perfect round of golf. Today I didn’t drive it quite as well, didn’t putt quite as good as I wanted to.

“Playing golf the way I’ve been playing is enjoyable. Two years ago golf wasn’t fun.

“I’d like to get back in the winners’ circle and if it comes this year great.”

Rory McIlroy (first round 65) and Tiger Woods (66) were among those with late tee times at the World Golf Championships event.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, which is hosting the event for the final time before it moves to Memphis next year.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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