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Here again is Fleetwood, chasing his first U.S. win

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tommy Fleetwood got off to a “dream start” on Friday at The Players, playing his first three holes in 4 under par, with a birdie at the first, an eagle at the second and another birdie at the third.

“I'd warmed up so well, you want to take that out on to the course, and I had a good round yesterday, and it was just a perfect, perfect start,” Fleetwood said. “You know it's going to be a tough afternoon. So to get sort of a head start on the golf course, really good.”

The challenge now is turning the dream start into a dream weekend.

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Fleetwood heads into the weekend at a PGA Tour event with a share of the lead for the second consecutive week following rounds of 65-67. He hopes to improve on his tie for third last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he also held the halfway lead.

Fleetwood is looking to win his first event in the United States and become the first Englishman to win the Tour’s flagship event. He’s had a handful of chances to break through in the U.S., including a runner-up showing last year at the U.S. Open and a second-place showing at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship.

“I played in really tough conditions on the Saturday (at the ’17 U.S. Open) and the golf course beat a lot of us up,” said Fleetwood, who is tied with Rory McIlroy at 12 under par. “I had a chance to do a few things on Sunday. That one always stands out. That feels like my closest one, because I had to watch Brooks [Koepka] play, and it was out of my hands, and I'd done all I could.”

The key to his U.S. breakthrough may be Saturday’s third round. Last week at Bay Hill, Fleetwood struggled on Day 3 to a 76 and fell out of contention. He shot a third-round 78 at Shinnecock Hills last summer to finish second to Koepka.