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January 9 2012

3:40 AM

Laird moves back to move up

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- By his own admission, Martin Laird didn't have a very good putting day in the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. But on the putting green after his round, he found something in his stroke ... and it paid quick dividends in Sunday's third round at the Plantation Course.

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Laird
Laird shot a 6-under 67 to move to 14 under, which gives him at least a fighting chance to catch tournament leader Steve Stricker, who's five shots ahead.

According to the Strokes Gained-Putting stats, Laird picked up 2.770 strokes on the field Sunday after giving up 3.258 strokes on Saturday.

Laird said he was pushing his putts and had the ball too far up in his stance when he was putting into the grain. Once he moved back, "the ball started coming out straighter," he said.

The Scotsman was a bogey-free 4 under on his round through the first 10 holes, needing just 15 putts during that stretch. He bounced back from his only bogey of the day, at the par-3 11th, with three birdies in the next five holes.

Laird will be playing with Webb Simpson in the group right ahead of Stricker, who'll play with defending champ Jonathan Byrd. He knows the task of catching Stricker is daunting ... but not impossible.

"I don't know what it will take but I'm guessing a minimum of 8 under, probably," Laird said. "I can't imagine him shooting much higher than 70. So it's going to be an interesting day."

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