Dufner surges up Quail Hollow leaderboard with second round 63 - GulfToday

Dufner surges up Quail Hollow leaderboard with second round 63


So Yeon Ryu hits on the 11th hole during the second round of the LPGA Mediheal Championship. Agence France-Presse

Jason Dufner fired seven birdies and an eagle in an eight-under par 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, a former top-10 player and winner of the 2013 PGA Championship who has slumped to 230th in the world rankings.

“But I know what that feels like. I’m just going with it, you know?” Dufner, 42, set an early target in the second round at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, building an 11-under total of 131 that put him one stroke 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 to reach 10-under 132.

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

It was a further stroke back to England’s Justin Rose, Ireland’s Seamus Power, Australian Jason Day and American Pat Perez.

Dufner’s round matched the lowest of his career. The last time he posted a 63 it was in the 2013 PGA Championship, where he went on to win his lone major title to date.

He birdied two of his first three holes and bounced back from a bogey at the fourth with an eagle at the par-five seventh.

He birdied the eighth, then picked up four more birdies coming in.

Dufner, who has missed eight cuts in 15 prior tournaments since the current season opened last October, has made wholesale changes in a bid to stop the rot. He’s on his fourth caddie of the year and parted with swing coach Chuck Cook.

McIlroy had certainly looked more likely to be leading the charge into the weekend, but he closed out his second round with a double-bogey and a bogey at the eighth and ninth holes.

Although he hit 10 of 14 fairways -- four more than he did on Thursday -- McIlroy needed 31 putts.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon fired a two-under par 70 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over compatriot Kim Sei-young and American Ryann O’Toole in the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ryu, who shared the first-round lead with South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee and Anne van Dam of the Netherlands, chipped in for birdie at the par-three 12th, but she bogeyed the 16th as she toiled through a “grinding” back nine.

“It was just a grinding day,” said Ryu, who had a 36-hole total of seven-under par 137 at Lake Merced in Daly City, California.

She said the changeable winds made things difficult, making it “tough to make a decision”.

“It felt like the wind was really strong into (a shot), and then all of a sudden it stopped,” she said.

Despite the difficult afternoon conditions, O’Toole birdied three of her last four holes in a 65. Kim joined O’Toole on 138 with a bogey-free 66 capped by a birdie at the ninth, despite battling back pain. Overnight co-leader Ji carded a 72 to join a group sharing fourth on 139. She was tied with compatriots Park In-bee, Choi He-yong and Choi Na-yeon and England’s Charley Hull.


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Team Emirates’ Pogacar claims podium finish

A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...

The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.

Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.

“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”

Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.

Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.

The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.

British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.

His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.

The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.

The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.

“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.

“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.

“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”

Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.

Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.

Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.

Stage 3 Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30

General Classification Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35

21 hours ago