Dufner Carries Lead Into Final Round Of Nelson
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Jason Dufner shot a 1-under 69 on Saturday, enough to keep a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Byron Nelson Championship.
On a day when nine players had or shared the lead, Dufner was the one on top alone for the second day in a row when play was done. He was at 8-under 202.
Jason Day shot a 67, with his only bogey coming after missing a short putt on the 18th hole. He was a stroke back along with J.J. Henry and Dicky Pride. Henry also had a 67, and Pride shot a 69.
Vijay Singh had a 66 and was two strokes back. Matt Kuchar, who won The Players Championship last weekend, was four shots back after a 72 with an up-and-down back nine.
Kuchar still has a chance to become the first PGA Tour player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in consecutive weeks.
Dufner got his first PGA Tour victory three weeks ago at New Orleans, then took a week off to get married before returning to play at The Players Championship last week.
Dufner’s only bogey came at the 528-yard par-4 third hole, when he knew right away that his drive wasn’t a good one. He immediately dropped his club to watch as the ball flew into a bunker on the left side of the fairway, opposite the water on the right where he hit his tee shot the previous day.
He got that stroke back with a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 6, and had pars the rest of the way except for the 14-foot birdie at the par-4 14th.
Day was bogey-free and 8 under until his par putt of less than 2 feet at the 18th hole rimmed around the cup and rolled back toward him.
The 2010 Nelson champion, Day finished fifth last year in his only other appearance on the TPC as Four Seasons course.
Henry had three birdies on the back nine after two bogeys on the easier front nine. Pride has been playing professionally for 20 years, and his only PGA Tour victory was in 1994.
PGA rookie Jonas Blixt from Sweden (67) and Marc Leishman (71) were tied for sixth at 205.
Ryan Palmer, the 2011 Nelson runner-up after losing in a playoff, shot a 72 in the final group. He was with Kuchar and defending Nelson champion Keegan Bradley (71) in a group of eight at 206.
Kuchar was 8 under and leading after consecutive birdies to start his back nine, with a 32-foot putt at No. 10 and hitting his approach at No. 11 inside 3 feet.
After hitting his tee shot at No. 12 into a fairway bunker, he had a chance to save par but missed a 6-foot putt. His tee shot at the 180-yard 13th stopped 4 inches from the pin for a tap-in birdie that got him back to 8 under and the lead, but that didn’t last long.
An errant drive on No. 14 led to a drop, then he had to punch back into the fairway before his approach to the back fringe of the green and a double bogey. His approach out of the rough at the next hole found a greenside bunker and he missed a 7-footer for par.
He didn’t have a par on the back nine until the par-5 16th, when the smiling Kuchar has his closest show of frustration, slapping his palms together walking off the green after his 7-foot birdie try rolled just past the hole.
Bradley was only one stroke off the lead when his drive at No. 11 was way right. His shot from there went over the green and trickled into the water, leading to a triple bogey that took him to 4 under, where he finished.
Phil Mickelson, the world’s 10th-ranked player, had five birdies and four bogeys for a 69 and was six strokes behind Dufner, the same as Friday.
At No. 18, where Mickelson finished with a double bogey Friday, he holed a 42-foot chip shot from behind the green.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)