Unsung Dufner seizes lead with 63, Rory fades

LOS ANGELES • Jason Dufner believes that he has never lost his touch despite going through a slump, after he fired seven birdies and an eagle in an eight-under 63 on Friday to put himself in unfamiliar territory atop the Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard.

"It has been a while since I've been in the lead or competing for a tournament," said Dufner, winner of the 2013 PGA Championship who has since dropped to 230th in the world rankings.

"But I've been there before. I know what that feels like. I'm just settling in to playing some better golf. I played what I would consider the scoreable holes really well... That's what happens on a day when you get in the low 60s. Everything kind of meshed together."

The 42-year-old set an early target in the second round at Quail Hollow, building an 11-under total of 131 that put him one in front of Joel Dahmen and Max Homa.

Dahmen, who shared the overnight lead with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, carded his second straight 66 while Homa had eight birdies in his 63.

McIlroy carded a 70 for 136 and shared fourth place with American Patrick Reed, who carded a 69.

Dufner's round matched the lowest of his career. The last time he posted a 63 was when he won the 2013 PGA Championship, his only Major title.

The American, who has missed eight cuts in 15 tournaments since the current season opened last October, has made wholesale changes in a bid to stop the rot.

He is on his fourth caddie of the year and parted with swing coach Chuck Cook.

"I think I'm on my fourth or fifth putter this year, I'm on my fourth or fifth driver, my fourth or fifth golf ball, fourth or fifth lob wedge," Dufner said.

"I'm trying to find stuff that's going to work. My window's pretty short on my career. I've probably got three or four more really good years left in me, so I'm not trying to be mediocre or average."

In women's golf, South Korea's Ryu So-yeon fired a two-under 70 for a seven-under 137 total on Friday to take a one-shot lead over compatriot Kim Sei-young (66) and American Ryann O'Toole (65) in the LPGA Mediheal Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 05, 2019, with the headline 'Unsung Dufner seizes lead with 63, Rory fades'. Print Edition | Subscribe