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Monday May 21, 2012

Vijay and Day among others hot on Jason’s heels

IRVING (Texas): American Jason Dufner fired a one-under 69 to keep a one-stroke lead after the third round of the PGA Byron Nelson Championship but Vijay Singh and Jason Day are among those hot on his heels.

Dufner completed 54 holes on eight-under 202 at the US$6.5mil event, one stroke ahead of compatriots J.J. Henry and Dicky Pride and Australian Day with Fiji’s Vijay on 204 and Aussie Marc Leishman and Swede Jonas Blixt on 205.

Dufner had a bogey at the par-4 third, answered with a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-four sixth and a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-four 14th to lead as he had after 36 holes on a day where nine players led or shared the lead.

“It was a stress-free round for me,” Dufner said. “I was in position a lot off the tee, which enabled me to be aggressive with iron shots and didn’t have too many must-make par putts.”

Dufner defeated Ernie Els in a playoff three weeks ago to win at New Orleans for his first career PGA title in 163 attempts, snapping a career win drought that including squandering a late lead at last year’s PGA Championship.

“It was a tough thing for me to get over that hurdle,” Dufner said. “I’ll have those thoughts in the back of my mind and encourage myself to think about those things and try and close this out.”

Day opened the front nine and back nine with birdies and also birdied the two par-fives, the seventh and 16th holes. But a bogey at 18 after missing a short putt kept him from matching Dufner atop the leaderboard, settling for a 67.

“I played great,” Day said. “It was tough conditions out there today with the wind, but I felt like I was trying to stay as patient as possible. Got away with a few shots out there, but overall very happy with how the day went.”

Day, who won the 2010 Nelson at TPC Four Seasons, expects a shootout for the crown.

“Tomorrow is going to be tough,” Day said. “There are a lot of extremely outstanding golfers up there on top of the leaderboard. I just have to stay disciplined within myself.

“The guy that obviously makes the least amount of mistakes out there is going to win. That’s just how things are going to go. So I feel like I’m in a good spot.”

Vijay, 49, fired a 66 to stand two strokes back, a bogey at 18 dropping him back after an eagle at the 16th and a birdie at the 17th as he bids for his first PGA title since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship.

“I haven’t been in this position for a while,” Vijay said.

“I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ve worked really hard, I haven’t stopped working.

“My game has been coming around, but there wasn’t any sign of scoring and this is the first day where I kind of went out there and scored well.” — AFP

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