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March 17 2012

12:45 AM

Stress-free Dufner strolls to lead

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Jason Dufner is bogey-free through two rounds of the Transitions Championship.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Not much seems to faze Jason Dufner, even when someone goes out and throws up a course-record in the opening round.

“I felt like if I played a solid round, I could be in contention,” Dufner said. “For some reason when guys shoot crazy low numbers like that, it really seems to be hard the next day to put another low number up.”

Which is exactly what happened Friday. Padraig Harrington, who opened with a 61, came back to the field in the second round, shooting a 73, while Dufner shot a second straight 66 to take the lead by two going into the weekend at the Transitions Championship.

Yet to make a bogey through his first 36 holes on the Copperhead Course, he had good reason to feel “stress free” as he put it.

On Friday, Dufner didn’t miss a fairway and hit 14 greens in regulation. For the week, he’s tied for first in fairways hit this week and sixth in greens in regulation.

“I like to try to keep it in play, out in front of me, where I can try to work on some shot selections into hole locations, trying to be a little less aggressive,” Dufner said. “Especially when you kind of have weird numbers or you're not quite as comfortable.

“It's a bit of a mind game with me. I tend to be a little too aggressive at times and get myself in trouble.”

Like at last year’s PGA Championship, where Dufner looked anything but comfortable coming down the stretch as he tried to win not only his first major but get his first win anywhere on the PGA TOUR.

In 159 starts on TOUR, McGirt has yet to win.

“Last year was really good and I felt like I had some really good chances to win and a couple shots here or there or from me or one of my opponents go a little different, then I'm holding some trophies last year,” Dufner said. “But I think you can draw from those close calls.”

Dufner has had enough close calls that he’s the only player in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking without a victory, a fact he’s acutely aware of.

”It's a good thing that I've played that well to be ranked that high without a victory, because the victories really jump you up in the World Rankings,” he said. “Finishing second is going to jump you up a lot; it's almost like a win, you get a ton of points for that.”

And even more for winning.

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