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Professional

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Associated Press
After 163 starts without a win on the PGA Tour, Jason Dufner improved his chances of ending the drought by shooting a 5-under 67 Saturday to take a 2-stroke lead in the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La.
GOLF

Zurich leader eyeing 1st win

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

“It’s not a golf course I’m absolutely 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.”

Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the 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 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 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.”

LPGA: In Mobile, Ala., Stacy Lewis birdied five of her last seven holes to shoot a 5-under 67 and take a two-stroke lead over Brittany Lincicome into the final round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

Lewis, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship winner, finished strong again to hang onto her second-round lead. Karine Icher of France shot a 68 and is three strokes back while Sun Young Yoo and Lindsey Wright both had 69s and are at 10 under.

Six others, including 17-year-old Floridian Lexi Thompson, are within five shots of Lewis’s 14-under 202 total on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove complex.

Karrie Webb is also among that group after tying the tournament record with a 64 already matched a day earlier by Karin Sjodin.

EUROPEAN/ASIAN: In Seoul, South Korea, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria shot a second straight 7-under 65 to open up a five-shot lead after the third round of the Ballantine’s Championship.

He equaled the Blackstone Golf Club course record he had set the previous day to reach 14-under 202.

Marcus Fraser of Australia was in second after a third-round 69, with England’s Oliver Fisher (67) and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar (68) one shot back in a tie for third.

The 26-year-old Wiesberger led by one shot after the second round and he extended his advantage with a 15-foot birdie putt on the fourth green and another from five foot at the sixth.

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