Thursday, March 22, 2018

Jason Dufner eagles twice to lead RBC Heritage through three rounds

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Jason Dufner took more than a solid showing away from last week's Masters. He took inspiration from winner Sergio Garcia.

Dufner finished 33rd in the year's first major, things getting away from him late in the final round. But he took something from Garcia managing his expectations and letting his game show through. And Dufner believes that's why he has a one-shot lead heading into today's final round of the RBC Heritage.

Dufner had two eagles en route to 6-under 65 Saturday to move in front of Graham DeLaet (69).

Dufner, at 13-under 200, said he entered Harbour Town Golf Links with low expectations, deciding he had gone through too many tournaments over-thinking how he was supposed to play or whose expectations he was supposed to live up to.

"That really gets in the way of playing well, to be honest with you," said Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, "so I think I maybe learned a little bit from the champion last week, where he kind of lowered his expectations and got out of his way, so to speak, and let his talent and his game plan take it from there."

Dufner's talent was on display, particularly on the par 5s.

The 40-year-old blasted a 215-yard approach on the second hole to 11 feet for his first eagle. He was short of the fifth green in two, then chipped in from about 100 feet for his second eagle. On the 15th, the course's final long hole, Dufner settled for birdie, part of three in a row on the back nine that took him into the lead.

DeLaet was tied with Dufner heading into his final hole but three-putted No. 18 from 35 feet to fall back. Still, it was his third straight sub-70 round after having five in five previous appearances here. He was at 12-under 201. His second-round co-leader, Luke Donald, shot 72 to fall four shots behind Dufner.

CHAMPIONS: Stephen Ames shot 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over five players into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga. Ames had five birdies and a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf to reach 9-under 135. First-round leader Bob Tway followed his opening 65 with 71 to drop into a tie for second with Kenny Perry (64), Billy Andrade (66), Brandt Jobe (68) and Kevin Sutherland (69).

LPGA: Su-Yeon Jang headed into the final round of the Lotte Championship playing bogey-free golf, finishing the third round late Friday with 7-under 65 for a three-stroke lead in Kapolei, Hawaii. The 22-year-old sponsor invite from South Korea was at 17-under 199. Cristie Kerr (62) and Alena Sharp (66) were tied for second. Kerr's 62 tied Lizette Salas' tournament record in 2013. Second-round co-leaders Ariya Jutanugarn (70) dropped six shots back and In-Kyung Kim (75) fell 10 behind.