By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- Jason Dufner is in a familiar spot at the top of another leaderboard at the midway point of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
A 29-footer for eagle at the 18th hole enabled Dufner, who played in the morning wave, to grab sole possession of the lead at 12 under. Dufner, who shot 65 on Friday, was briefly tied by Steve Stricker Friday afternoon as he made six birdies in his first 10 holes but the veteran ended up with a 68 and tied for fifth.
Dufner has now owned at least a share of the lead through 36 holes in six PGA TOUR events. Four of those have come in his last 16 starts, including the last two majors.
"This one I feel just a little bit more comfortable," said Dufner, who has finished in the top-10 the last three times he's played the Zurich Classic. "Feel like you have a little bit more room for error on this golf course. You don't have to play perfect. Maybe that will lead to some better scores on the weekend."
The group at 11 under includes PGA TOUR rookie Russell Knox and Ken Duke, both looking for their first PGA TOUR victories, and John Rollins, who chipped in at No. 8, his 17th hole of the day, to move into the tie.
Joining Stricker at 10 under are Greg Chalmers and the resurgent Ernie Els. A total of 20 players will start the third round within five strokes of Dufner's lead on a Pete Dye course that has been surprisingly generous -- particularly before the breezes blow as the day progresses.
"Obviously guys that are up at the top of the leaderboard are
going to have later tee times tomorrow," Dufner said. "The wind
picks up a little bit more even after lunch. If the wind picks up
somebody that tees off early can have a chance to jump up on that
leaderboard and some of the leaders, if they play a really nice
round of golf, might be able to shoot 3, 4-under.
"Just depends on what the weather does on this golf course. You get strong winds, it will make the scores higher."
The cut came at 2 under and included 79 players -- including reigning Masters champ Bubba Watson and former U.S. Open champions Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and Graeme McDowell, all of whom made it on the number. Ogilvy shot a 66 to make the biggest move to the weekend.
Playing in the final group of the day, Garth Mulroy made a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 ninth, which was his 18th of the day, to make the cut. With 79 players, there will be a secondary cut on Saturday.