Dufner Fires 65, Leads RBC Heritage After 54 Holes

LeBron James is undoubtedly the Cleveland native getting the most attention today, as his Cavaliers opened up their playoff defense of their much-celebrated 2016 NBA Championship. As always, Playoff LeBron was formidable, scoring 32 points, while adding 13 rebounds and 6 assists in a one-point Cavs win.

LeBron, however, may not even have had the best athletic performance among Clevelandites on Saturday, as another native of the NE Ohio metropolis, 40-year-old PGA veteran Jason Dufner put together a dazzling third round at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island.

 
The former PGA champion carded five birdies and two eagles on his way to a low-round 6-under 65, and grabbing the lead at the RBC Heritage after 54 holes.

Dufner is at 13-under, and leads 36 hole co-leadar Graham DeLaet by a stroke. Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson are tied for third at 11-under, while Ian Poulter rounds out the top-5 at 10-under.


Top 10

1 Jason Dufner -13
2 Graham DeLaet -12
T3 Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson -11
5 Ian Poulter -10
T6 Wesley Bryan, William McGirt, Luke Donald -9
T9 J.J. Spaun, Ollie Schneiderjans, Tyrell Hatton, Nick Taylor -8

Other Notables

T16 Chad Campbell, Brian Gay -6
T20 Branden Grace, Adam Hadwin -5
T31 Graeme McDowell, Andrew “Beef” Johnston -4
T43 Shane Lowry, Russell Henley -3
T53 Martin Kaymer, Marc Leishman -2
T63 Ben Crane, Matt Kuchar -1


How the Leader Did It

Dufner had the best round of the day despite three bogeys, which well illustrates just how incredible he was on the other 15 holes. His front nine epitomized “roller coaster round”, as he played his first five holes bogey, eagle, bogey, par, eagle, with the second eagle coming courtesy of a 99-foot pitch-in.

 
After adding one last bogey on #7, Dufner carded back-to-back birdies on 9 and 10, and did even better adding three consecutive birdies on 14, 15, and 16, with pars on the rest. Another strange thing about Dufner’s round: it was his lowest score of the week, even though he hit the fewest number of fairways and fewest number of greens in any of his rounds this week, a testament to how well he putted Harbour Town’s notoriously small greens.

If he can hold on Sunday, it will be his fifth career victory, and first he won the CareerBuilder Challenge just over a year ago.


Playing Themselves Into Contention

Kevin Kisner has been on a furious comeback since his disappointing opening-round 72 (+1). His seven-under 64 in round 2 was the lowest round in the Friday field, and he kept that heat going into Saturday, posting a five-under 67 that tied for second-lowest in the round 3 field.

 
Kisner was bogey-free for the second consecutive day, and is now just two strokes out of the lead in his latest attempt at a second career PGA Tour victory. One of those who tied Kisner’s 67 was

J.J. Spaun, a Tour rookie who has already contended twice this year, finishing T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open at difficult Torrey Pines and T4 the following week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona.

Billy Hurley III made a ton of fans during his surprise 2016 victory at the Quicken Loans National, but has just one top 10 in 20 events since. After his five-under 67 in round 3, he has put himself in a position for another high finish. At -7 for the tournament, he is six strokes out of the lead, giving him an Easter prayer is he can go low on Sunday.


Going The Wrong Way

Pat Perez has had a tremendous 2016-17 season, with a victory at the OHL Classic in addition to three other finishes inside the top 7. He kept that good form going into this week too, as he was -7 through two rounds, just three strokes out of the lead.

 
However, there are not many positive adjectives that can be accurately used to describe his third round, an atrocious 10-over 81 that was the worst round in the field by six strokes.

Luke Donald is looking for his first RBC Heritage victory after an unbelievable amount of close calls, but he could only muster one birdie in his round 3 one-over 72 and dropped from a tie for the lead into a tie for 6th. He is not out of it, but if he doesn’t go low on Sunday, he is probably looking at another high-finish non-victory.

 
Sam Saunders shot a 65 in round one, but had one of the worst rounds in the field in round 3, a three-over 74. Five bogeys and a double bogey more than cancelled out his four birdies.


Quotable

“The front nine was a little bit of a roller coaster, but it was good to pick up a couple of eagles, that’s always nice, to kind of even it out. The back nine was really clean, I was really happy with how I played on the back nine. Hopefully that will bode well for tomorrow in the final round.”
Jason Dufner, Round 3 leader


The Leaderboard

RBC Heritage, Round Three, April 15, 2017

POSNAMER1R2R3Total 
1Jason Dufner686765-13
2Graham DeLaet656769-12
3Kevin Kisner726466-11
3Webb Simpson666868-11
5Ian Poulter666869-10
6Wesley Bryan696768-9
6William McGirt686868-9
6Luke Donald656772-9
9J.J. Spaun677266-8
9Tyrrell Hatton696868-8
9Ollie Schniederjans686869-8
9Nick Taylor696670-8
13Billy Hurley III697166-7
13Patrick Cantlay706670-7
13Bud Cauley637271-7
16Brian Harman717066-6
16Peter Malnati716967-6
16Chad Campbell696969-6
16Brian Gay687069-6
20Ryan Palmer687367-5
20Blayne Barber716869-5
20Branden Grace687169-5
20Rafael Campos687070-5
20Sung Kang696970-5
20Francesco Molinari677170-5
20Patton Kizzire726670-5
20Cameron Smith677071-5
20Adam Hadwin716671-5
20Brandt Snedeker696871-5
20Russell Knox706672-5
31Keegan Bradley756668-4
31Tyrone Van Aswegen707069-4
31Graeme McDowell726869-4
31David Hearn707069-4
31Andrew Johnston687170-4
31Jason Bohn677270-4
31Harold Varner III677270-4
31Daniel Summerhays736670-4
31Johnson Wagner706970-4
31Derek Fathauer726770-4
31Hideto Tanihara677072-4
31Sam Saunders657074-4
43Boo Weekley726969-3
43Shane Lowry667569-3
43Rod Pampling697269-3
43K.J. Choi697170-3
43Ryan Blaum716970-3
43Bryce Molder736770-3
43Zac Blair707070-3
43Russell Henley667371-3
43Martin Laird697071-3
43Alex Cejka716673-3
53Fabian Gomez746770-2
53Grayson Murray677371-2
53Lucas Glover726871-2
53Brian Stuard697171-2
53Charles Howell III707071-2
53Mark Anderson697072-2
53Jonas Blixt697072-2
53Danny Lee667273-2
53Martin Kaymer686974-2
53Marc Leishman686974-2
63Kyle Stanley717071-1
63Steve Marino697172-1
63Ben Crane667472-1
63Matt Kuchar687173-1
63Kevin Na706973-1
63Anirban Lahiri677075-1
69Yuta Ikeda707172E
69C.T. Pan716973E
71Trey Mullinax7368731
71Vaughn Taylor7170731
73Mark Hubbard7071742
74Pat Perez6867813
75Jim Furyk6874-MC
75Robert Garrigus7270-MC
75John Huh7072-MC
75Freddie Jacobson7270-MC
75Chris Kirk7072-MC
75Luke List7567-MC
75Hunter Mahan6874-MC
75Carl Pettersson6973-MC
75D.A. Points7171-MC
75John Senden7270-MC
75Vijay Singh7072-MC
75Camilo Villegas7072-MC
87Steven Bowditch7172-MC
87Scott Brown7271-MC
87Roberto Castro7172-MC
87Stewart Cink7073-MC
87Tommy Gainey6974-MC
87Jason Kokrak6875-MC
87David Lingmerth7271-MC
87Andrew Loupe7172-MC
87Davis Love III7271-MC
87Shawn Stefani6974-MC
87Michael Thompson7469-MC
98Aaron Baddeley7173-MC
98Rafa Cabrera Bello7470-MC
98Greg Chalmers7272-MC
98Ernie Els7074-MC
98James Hahn7272-MC
98Michael Kim7173-MC
98Kyle Reifers7074-MC
98Brett Stegmaier7272-MC
98Robert Streb7668-MC
107Ricky Barnes7372-MC
107Matthew Fitzpatrick7372-MC
107J.J. Henry7372-MC
107Spencer Levin6877-MC
107Troy Merritt7174-MC
112Chad Collins7670-MC
112Bryson DeChambeau7373-MC
112Ken Duke7571-MC
112Charley Hoffman7373-MC
112Morgan Hoffmann7472-MC
112Ryo Ishikawa7076-MC
112Whee Kim6977-MC
112Ben Martin7175-MC
112John Peterson7274-MC
112Chez Reavie7472-MC
122Dominic Bozzelli7275-MC
122Harris English7473-MC
122Bill Haas7176-MC
122Kelly Kraft7275-MC
122Geoff Ogilvy7374-MC
127Billy Horschel7078-MC
128Danny Willett7178-MC
129Jim Herman7777-MC
130Cheng Jin7878-MC
131Brooks Blackburn8176-MC
-Matt Every74--WD

Credit: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media


Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.



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