New Orleans, LA – Jason Dufner carded a seven-under 65 Friday to grab a one-stroke lead after 36 holes of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Dufner finished two rounds at 12-under-par 132. It seems like Dufner has been in contention a lot this year, but he has just two top-10 finishes in his first 10 starts this year.
Ken Duke, who shared the first-round lead with Cameron Tringale, managed a four-under 68 in round two. He shared second place at minus-11 with Russell Knox (64) and John Rollins (66) at TPC Louisiana.
Greg Chalmers also fired a 64 to jump into a share of fifth place at 10-under- par 134. He was joined there by Ernie Els (68) and Steve Stricker (68).
Stricker ran off four straight birdies from the seventh to grab a piece of the lead, but he dropped shots on 12 and 15 to slide back to minus-10.
Masters champion Bubba Watson (71) birdied the par-three 17th to make the cut on the number at minus-two. Watson, the defending champion, is looking to become the first repeat winner of this event since Carlos France (1999-00).
Dufner opened his round with a four-foot birdie putt on the first. After three straight pars, he rolled in a nine-footer for birdie at No. 5.
The 35-year-old came right back with a 26-foot birdie effort on the sixth. He made it three in a row after playing his third to the par-five seventh within two feet of the cup.
Dufner, who lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff at the PGA Championship last year, cruised to three straight pars from the eighth.
"Really nice start on the front nine, I had a couple putts, I had a couple of easy birdies," Dufner said. "I don't think I missed a fairway or a green."
At the par-five 11th, he chipped his third to four feet and converted that putt for birdie. After six straight pars, Dufner found the green in two at the par-five closing hole. He ran home his 29-foot eagle putt to grab the lead.
"Then at 18, I had just a really good number for my five-wood to get somewhere on that green and had a putt that was down-grain and breaking to the left with the grain so that was a nice way to finish the day," Dufner said of his closing eagle putt.
Duke connected on back-to-back birdie efforts from the 13th to move to minus- nine. He gave one stroke back with a bogey on the 16th, then parred three in a row around the turn.
The 43-year-old recovered that lost stroke with a birdie on the par-five second. Down the stretch, he birdied the seventh and ninth to gain a share of second place.
"I didn't drive it as good as I did yesterday, but I had some good numbers yesterday," Duke explained. "Today I didn't. Seemed like [the wind] was circling out there."
Knox was hot early as he birdied the 10th and 11th. His run ended with a bogey on No. 12, but he came right back with birdies on the 13th and 14. Knox made a 19-foot eagle putt on the 18th to make the turn at eight-under.
He birdied the first, then parred his next five holes. Knox rolled in a 20- footer for birdie on the seventh and made it two in a row with a 14-foot birdie effort on No. 8 to get within one of Dufner.
Rollins converted birdie efforts on the 11th and 14th, but stumbled to a bogey on the 16th. He erased that mistake with a birdie on the 17th, and followed with another birdie at 18 to turn at minus-five.
The three-time PGA Tour winner collected three birdies on the front nine to grab a share of second place.
NOTES: Tringale managed a two-under 70 to slip into a share of eighth place at minus-nine...The cut line fell at minus-two with 79 players advancing to the weekend...Among those that missed the cut were Bob Estes, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Ricky Barnes and Bradley.