Birdies boost Ross Fisher’s schedule

Ross Fisher arrived at the Mexico Championship fully aware that it could be his last significant tournament for the next month. He closed with three straight birdies for a 65, and now he can count on another World Golf Championship, and possibly a trip down Magnolia Lane.

Fisher was at No. 72 in the world ranking. His tie for third moved him to No. 55 in the world, making the Englishman a lock for the Dell Match Play on March 22-26 in Austin, Texas. The top 64 available players from the world ranking after this week are eligible.

''I knew it was probably the last chance to get into the Masters,'' Fisher said Sunday. ''Whether that's done me enough, hopefully that should have done me enough to get into the Match Play.''

His work is not done if he wants to get to Augusta National. The top 50 in the world after the Match Play are eligible for the Masters, and while there will be plenty of world ranking points available, everyone around him in the ranking is getting points. Advancing out of his four-man group to the third round might not be enough.

But at least he has a chance.

The other side of Sunday belonged to Pat Perez, who was No. 67 in the world going into Mexico. He was going along nicely at 3 under with three holes to play. But he took a soft bogey on the par-3 seventh, made a triple bogey from the bunker on the tough par-4 eighth and finished with a birdie. But dropping three shots on the last three holes might have cost him a spot in the Match Play.

He would have gone to No. 63. Instead, he remained at No. 67 and is not playing the Valspar Championship. Perez still has a chance because Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are not playing the Match Play, and Rickie Fowler was leaning against it.

The next four players behind him in the world ranking are playing - Soren Kjeldsen, Si Woo Kim and Charley Hoffman in Florida, Scott Hend in India. Not too far behind are Jason Dufner and Billy Horschel, also playing the Valspar Championship.

The good news for Perez? At least he already has his spot locked up for the Masters, having won last fall at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. So at least one trip to Mexico worked out for him.