Daily Wrap-up: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Round 3

April 28, 2012
Staff and wire reports

AVONDALE, La. -- Jason Dufner got past Saturday without any of the troubles that have marked his weekend struggles. He knows Sunday will be a much bigger challenge.


Winless in 163 starts on the PGA TOUR, Dufner shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Graham DeLaet after the third round of the Zurich Classic.

"For me, it means instead of two good rounds I've had three good rounds, so maybe we can make it four, starting tomorrow," Dufner said. "I don't really think about all that type of stuff. Obviously, I know that I hadn't played as well as I would like on the weekends, try to identify some of the reasons why and try to implement some of those tomorrow."

Dufner birdied three of the first four holes to get to 15 under, holing 50-foot putt on the par-4 fourth and a 25-footer on the par-4 fifth.

"That's probably a huge key to today," Dufner said about his good start. "Maybe a couple of bogeys to start the round or even par through same holes maybe I start doubting myself again.

"Be nice to kind of start that way again, get you a little bit more comfortable, know that you're going to have a chance to shoot a score under par and not be struggling or fighting it for the day."

After dropping a stroke on the sixth, he birdied the seventh and got to 17 under with birdies on Nos. 15 and 18. He has played the par-5 18th in 4 under in three days.

"It's not a golf course I'm absolutely am in love with, but my results I'm in love with here," Dufner said about the Pete Dye layout. "There's some holes that don't look too well to me, but I played really well."

Projected points
The race for spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections

Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship for two of his three career runner-up finishes.

"Right now a win would be great," Dufner said. "Obviously, I've been be knocking on the door with a lot of solid rounds, lot of solid play last year at the end of the year, but I take pride in being consistent with my game. I don't shoot too many high numbers. I don't feel like I'm very far away from playing well each week."

DeLaet, from Canada, shot a 66. He birdied three of the final six holes.

"Really felt I was in great control of my irons today," said DeLaet, whose best career finish is a tie for third in the 2010 Shell Houston Open. "It's exciting. It's the first time I've been in this position this deep into a tournament. I understand what's on the table."

Ernie Els and John Rollins were 14 under. Els shot a 68, and Rollins had a 69.

"I feel like it's coming around," Els said. "I feel I'm not too far back. The guys have been scoring well and I think you're going to have to play really well to have the scores we've been playing."

The Southern African known as "The Big Easy" is comfortable in the city that shares the moniker.

Shot of the Day: Rollins

John Rollins navigates some trees and sticks his 188-yard approach shot on the par-4 12th hole.

"My kind of town," Els said. "People like to have a good time."

Rollins credited a new philosophy of not looking at the leaderboard for his success.

"I've just been out there playing golf and not really worrying about it," said Rollins, who has broken par in 15 of 19 career rounds at TPC Louisiana. "I've never known where I stood in the golf tournament until I'm actually finished. It's been fun."

Ryan Palmer tied the course record with a 64 to join Steve Stricker and Cameron Tringale at 13 under. Tringale had a 68, and Stricker a 69.

Defending champion Bubba Watson, playing in his first tournament since winning the Masters, was 9 under after a 65. He opened with consecutive 71s to make the cut by a stroke and now is in position to move atop the FedExCup standings with a solid Sunday showing.

TPC Louisiana: Saturday
The par-5 7th hole was the easiest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.532.
The par-4 4th hole was the toughest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.380.
About the leader
• Dufner, who is getting married a week from Saturday, has posted two top 10s in 2012 in 10 starts (T8-Waste Management Phoenix Open, T10-Transitions Championship).
• In search of his first PGA TOUR victory, Dufner has posted three runner-up finishes on TOUR, most recently in a playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship (2011 Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2009 Deutsche Bank Championship).
• Dufner has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three years at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, finishing T9 in 2009, T7 in 2010 and T3 last year.
• Dufner would be the third first-time winner on TOUR this season (Kyle Stanley and John Huh). In 2010 there were 15 first-time winners and in 2011 there were 14.

Second-ranked Luke Donald was 12 under after a 66. He needs to finish at least solo seventh to regain the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Rory McIlroy.