Calm Dufner manages to break clutter,take one-shot lead

American Jason Dufner kept his composure after a slow start to move one stroke clear of a congested leaderboard in Saturday’s wind-buffeted third round of the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving,Texas.

Written by Reuters | Philadelphia | Published: May 21, 2012 12:47 am

American Jason Dufner kept his composure after a slow start to move one stroke clear of a congested leaderboard in Saturday’s wind-buffeted third round of the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving,Texas.

Overnight leader Dufner,who clinched his maiden PGA Tour victory at the New Orleans Classic three weeks ago,carded a one-under-par 69 at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas for an eight-under total of 202. The 35-year-old was one of nine players who held at least a share of the lead in the third round but he made no mistakes in gusting winds after recording a birdie at the 14th while his closest challengers slipped back.

Australian Jason Day,champion here in 2010,three-putted the last for a 67 to slide back to seven under,level with Americans JJ Henry (67) and Dicky Pride (69). Fijian former world number one Vijay Singh was a further stroke back after firing a 66.

“Good ball striking,hit a lot of greens,a lot of balls in play,” Dufner said of his round. Playing in the tough wind conditions on Friday helped him in the third round,he added.

“That was helpful today and I didn’t feel like I was scrambling too much,trying to save pars or being out of position,anything like that. It was a stress-free round for me. I was in position a lot off the tee,which enabled me to be aggressive with iron shots,and I didn’t have too many ‘must-make’ par putts.”

Squandered lead

DUFNER began the day with a one-shot lead but squandered that with a bogey at the par-four third where he drove into a bunker. However,the laid-back American with the distinctive pre-shot waggle birdied the sixth to reach the turn in even-par 35.

At one point on the back nine,Dufner shared the lead with Day,Pride,Australian Marc Leishman and American world number five Matt Kuchar but his birdie at the 14th was good enough to give him a one-stroke cushion going into Sunday’s final round. Day,who won his only PGA Tour title at the Byron Nelson Championship two years ago,was delighted with his position despite three-putting the final hole.

“I played great,” the 24-year-old said after mixing four birdies with the lone bogey. “It was tough conditions out there with the wind,but I felt like I was trying to stay as patient as possible. I got away with a few shots out there,but overall I’m very,very happy with how the day went.”

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