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February 5 2012

12:06 AM

Stroud’s putter keeps him in hunt

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Athletes can be a superstitious lot.

So don't be surprised if you see Chris Stroud and John Rollins and their wives having dinner together again on Saturday night. After all, that's what they did on Friday -- celebrating Stroud's 30th birthday -- and they went out and fired rounds of 66 and 65, respectively.

59892343 "I told him, we've got to go out and have a bottle of wine tonight and celebrate some more because it works," Stroud said. "I was really calm out there today, just trying not to put any pressure on myself. Very confident with my putter. It makes a lot of things easy."

At the same time, even though he's tied for fifth at 9 under entering the final round, Stroud isn't quite as comfortable with the way he's hitting the ball. He's only hit 25 or 42 fairways and 36 of 54 greens in regulation. His 80 putts, though, have the lanky Texan tied for sixth in that category.

"I'm not swinging it very good, but I'm putting so well, I've got to give myself looks," said Stroud, who trails Spencer Levin by eight strokes. "That's all I'm doing. I'm staying loose out there and trying not to put too much pressure on myself tee to green. ... I have very little confidence with my swing, but I'm just trying to get it in play out there.

"I'm going to go to the range and figure it out a little bit. If I can keep it in play tomorrow, I think I've got a good chance, but obviously Levin is playing really, really strong. We may need him to back up a little bit. But I'm putting well. It's nice."

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