What they said: Jason Dufner

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March 17, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

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DOUG MILNE: Jason, thanks for joining us again for a few minutes, even par 71 today, gives you 10-under heading into the final round, just a stroke off the lead. Just some comments on the round today and then we'll open it up and take a few questions.

JASON DUFNER: OK, pretty solid again today. The first nine holes, not my best but had a lot of birdie chances probably inside of 20 feet and didn't quite convert on those. So a little disappointing there. But good to be in contention again going into Sunday. Just one shot back, need to play a little bit more aggressive, chase those guys down on the front nine.

Q. If you were going to make a bogey in the tournament, would you have thought it would be on the fifth hole??

JASON DUFNER: No, that was a little bit unlucky. I believe I hit a tree there on the second shot, which is not a very big tree. In the green-side bunker, not a very easy up?and?down. Kind of unlucky there. Boned a chip there, bladed it, had a bad lie sitting down in a bit of a hole. Yeah, that was not the most exciting way to start the round. You always like to have a birdie before a bogey.

Q. A lot of guys made a move today. Do you think you're fortunate to be one shot back without just staying even par??

JASON DUFNER: Some guys made some runs. I think the course probably played today as tough as it has all week. The greens dried out a little bit and a little bit more aggressive today, I'm not sure what -- I think 65 was low. They were able to make a run.

But it's a good position. I had a two?shot lead, shot even, and then the other guys that were kind of two back really went away and shot a 5- or 6-under. So it's bunched up there as you can see on the leaderboard. Looks like there's probably about 15 guys within four shots of the lead or so. So should be a good, exciting day tomorrow.

Q. You've been in this position a few times -- three times after 36, at least, maybe 54 and only a few guys this year have won leading going into Sunday, gone onto win. Is there a sense of relief that you got the quote, unquote, bad round out of the way today and that it will be easier tomorrow coming from behind??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, hopefully that is the worst round of the week. That's a nice thing to think about. It's been difficult this year, guys with the lead going into the final day have struggled. Anything can happen with as many people bunched up like that. So hopefully tomorrow I'll have another nice round like the first two days and pins will be a little bit easier than they were today.

Q. What is the hard part when you're leading on Sunday going into the final round??

JASON DUFNER: I think just patience and kind of sticking to what you've been doing the first three days. I think sometimes guys tend to get a little less aggressive and maybe a little bit more conservative. Maybe they make a bogey or two and then you start pressing again, which can lead to even more bogeys.

So it's a bit of a mind game out there with yourself. You know what you're trying to do, but how do you control your emotions, control your mind and make good swings and make good putts, get yourself to do that is a difficult thing out here; that's the trick.

Q. What do you tell yourself to try to not change the way you go about things on Sunday??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you just really have to be patient, pick your spots and realize that there's a lot of golf left, 18 holes is a good bit of golf, nine holes is a good bit of golf and anything can happen. Just want to stick with the same game plan you've had really. That's worked for me in the past on Sundays, just stick with what you're doing and be patient.

Anything can happen; you can make a 40?footer and turn it around and get some confidence or 3-putt from five feet and go the other way. It really is just a mind game out there with guys that are trying to win; it's who can control their minds, and everybody in the Top-10 or so is really playing great golf.

Q. There's 20 guys in the Top-10 that are pretty bunched up, do you have to do something a little different in some way, shape or form versus a normal event where you might normally have to worry about four or five guys??

JASON DUFNER: Maybe a little bit. Some of those guys that are at 7- , 8-under, they can sneak up on you and get into this thing. For me tomorrow, I want to get off to a good start.

You have that par 5 there on the first hole, would be great to get a birdie there. I think most guys try to do as good as they can on the front nine and see where they are stacking up and if you have to chase a little bit, you chase a little bit. If you're at the lead or maybe one shot back, maybe you pick your spots a little bit more. That's my game plan for tomorrow is just get off to a good start, play that front nine well, because I think that's a little bit the easier nine holes, and get it to 3- or 4-under and anything can happen.

Q. What would you say your best and worst has been at handling minds games over your professional career??

JASON DUFNER: Sometimes you don't see because you're playing bad. Some of the best things is -- I know that the PGA wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, but I felt pretty strong with some shots. I hit poor shots there and I was able to play that 18th hole really well. So for me, everything was kind of going downhill the other way, but I knew when I was standing on 18 that I had to make a par to get in that playoff.

So that was something that I could draw on. Some of the worst moments are just days that people never see, you play on a Thursday and just lose your mind and all of a sudden the week is over and you miss the cut. Everybody has their moments and like I said guys are playing -- physically guys are playing really well in the Top-10. It's just a matter of how they control their emotions and get through it mentally.

Q. Do you think you're due??

JASON DUFNER: You know, I don't really think about being due or not due. I know I've been in this position a good bit. I'd love to have some great breaks tomorrow and make some 50-footers or hole a 7-iron or something. Maybe that would equal everything out. You know, probably not going to happen. So I'm just focused on trying to play well like I did the first two days.

Q. Do you feel more ready than you've ever felt??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I'm pretty confident with where my game is. I've had some really, really nice rounds this year, some of the best rounds on TOUR have come this year; haven't quite put together four rounds of a tournament. Seem to have a sketchy rounds here or there or two sketchy rounds. I've had some really great rounds this year. The 66 last week at Doral was one of the best rounds I've played on TOUR. I think my game is coming into form and I feel confident with a lot of things I'm doing. My bad shots are not quite as bad and my putting is getting better.

Q. Do you talk a lot on the course with whoever you're playing with??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, here and there. Padraig and I were talking about some ping?pong table tennis. I guess he's got a bit of the bug today. Ogilvie and I were talking about some TOUR politics and stock market last week. You can be a little chitchatty. Just depends on the other guy. I don't mind talking.

Q. Only reason I'm asking is because you're playing with Bae tomorrow.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I don't know much Korean.

Q. Wonder if that makes a difference to you at all.

JASON DUFNER: Not really. I think it will be fine. We actually work with the same trainer, so kind of associated with him a little bit. Seems like a really nice kid and he's had some really good success in the last year or, so in Japan, and here, be interesting to play with him and see what kind of game he has.

Q. Who is the trainer??

JASON DUFNER: Jeff Wagner.

Q. What would be your objective tomorrow when you get to the 10th tee??

JASON DUFNER: At least 3-under would be ideal, perfect, pin playing straight downwind, almost a birdie hole. You could get to 5-under at the turn if you're at 3.

Q. Are you thinking about score or position??

JASON DUFNER: Thinking about score. Like I said, I think the front nine is a little bit easier. I think you can score on that. Just general knowledge of knowing where hole locations are. Seems to be some of the easier ones on the front nine tomorrow so I think it will be important for whoever wants to win this tournament to get off to a good start on the front nine especially the first 11 holes.

Q. Do you have a good sense of where this country is headed after two days with Joe??

JASON DUFNER: No, everybody has their own opinions. I don't think anybody knows where it's heading. But yeah, we had some good chats. He's a good guy.

Q. To follow up, is there a point where you are more concerned about position than score as you're playing on the back nine??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, probably those last four holes. There's a scoreboard there on 14 so I'll be checking to see where I'm at. Those are pretty tough holes and you'd like to be in the lead and take your chances with that.

Just like I said, I'll be shooting for a good score tomorrow on the front nine, trying to push it through 11 holes and then kind of assess and see where I'm at and if you need to play a little bit more aggressive the last four, you may have to do that. I'm out here searching for a victory, not really looking for Top-10s or good finishes. In that situation in Phoenix, made two bogeys. So for me if I'm going to play aggressive on those last four holes, I'd like to know where I stands.

DOUG MILNE: Jason we appreciate your time best of luck tomorrow.

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