AKRON, Ohio – Jason Dufner had the very epitome of an up-and-down day at the Bridgestone Invitational.
The highlights included a string of four birdies to start the round. Among the low points were a double bogey and a missed 5-foot par putt on the final hole.
The bottom line, however, is that he's pleased with what he's doing.
"The first three days have been pretty good for Dufner," who was born in the Cleveland area and lived in and around the nearby city until he was 11. "I'm right up there close to the top of the leaderboard — not really close to what Tiger is doing, though. That's pretty solid golf for me. I've been struggling a little bit this year, but it's nice to get here and put some good score up."
Dufner, with just one top-10 finish this season (a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open), put together a 3-under 67, one of the best rounds of the day. It was his third consecutive round under par after scores of 67 and 69.
The bad news is that, despite such sterling week, he finds himself in third place, a distant eight shots back of Woods.
Dufner said he didn't believe the rest of the world's top golfers necessarily were intimidated by Woods, or were awed by him.
"Guys are out here just playing," he said. "It's tough when a guy is at 15 under and he's got a seven-shot lead. This would be a heck of a tournament for the fans and everybody out here if he wasn't playing, but that's not the case right now. He's the type of golfer who can do this to these golf courses. As players, you've got to try and respond with what you can to try and catch him. It's a tough task."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Young English pro Chris Wood, playing in his first Bridgestone, was paired with Tiger Woods for the first time on Saturday: "He chipped in on 13. I've never heard a noise quite so loud on the golf course."
GOING CONSERVATIVE: Tiger Woods carries a seven-shot lead into the final round. To say the least, he's not known for choking away big leads, either.
He said he's not sure what his plan of attack will be in the final round.
"It will all depend on how I feel out there," he said. "I had a nice warmup session today. My lines on all my shots were nice and tight and I felt really good. As the round progressed, it just got a little bit worse so I had to play a little more conservatively."
Woods said he hit "some really bad shots," which wouldn't be evident by his round of 68.
The object, he said, was to not lose ground to those who were chasing him.
"It's just one of those things where I was just trying to build on my lead somehow, and for the most part I was doing that," he said.
For the record, Woods is 52-4 when holding at least a share of a 54-hole lead in PGA Tour events. When he has sole possession of the lead, he's 41-2.
NOT TWITTER AVERSE: Few athletes, and ever fewer golfers, embrace social media as much as Ian Poulter.
For that matter, there are few athletes embraced as much as those who follow Ian Poulter.
On Twitter, he's @IanJamesPoulter. He bills himself as "Global tour golfer, @ijpdesign Owner. Massive Arsenal fan and Orlando Magic fan. Love Cars, Most of all love my Family time."
Moments after capping a 1-under 69 on Saturday in the third round of the Bridgestone Invitational, Poulter could be seen standing outside the scoring trailer, checking his emails, website, Instagram, texts, videos, pictures, retweets and direct messages.
But he really loves sending all of the above.
"I do it whenever and however I like," he said. "Social media is fantastic. I like it. You can spend time replying to some of the fans, give them insight, info, pictures, video content into what I do on a day-to-day basis. And they like it. So I use it for a number of different reasons."
How much does he like Twitter? Late on Saturday afternoon, he had sent more than 12,000 tweets, was following 184 people and had a staggering 1.5 million followers.
He sends a blend of cheeky, funny jabs at friends like Graeme McDowell, along with pictures of his kaleidoscopic trousers and shoes. He answers questions, gives updates and reflects on the life of a professional golfer.
"It's a fun thing to do. I've enjoyed doing it since I started," he said.
And, at times, Poulter is just another fan, remarking about what is going on in the sport.
For instance, after Tiger Woods torched Firestone Country Club for a 61 in the second round, Poulter tweeted, "That was a filthy round of golf that Tiger shot today. Lapping the field with ease. He quite likes this course. In fact any (World Golf Championship) event."
STATS DON'T LIE: Woods is in the top 10 of almost every statistic this week at the Bridgestone, including driving accuracy (T-9th), driving distance (5th), greens in regulation (T-2nd), strokes gained-putting (2nd), putting average (2nd), par-3 scoring average (T-6th) and par-4 scoring average (1st).
One that he isn't among the leaders might come as a surprise: He's tied for 35th in scoring on par-5s.
GREAT SCOTT: Adam Scott has gotten better every day at the Bridgestone.
He opened with a mediocre 73, followed with a solid 68 and on Friday a 66.
It appears that the guy who won the Masters in April might be rounding into shape for the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill.
"It was a good round," he said. "Anything in the 60s is a good score around here no matter what the conditions are. There's always plenty of trouble. My game is sharpening up to where I want it to be, so I'm happy about that so far."
Scott could have been even sharper. He was 5-under heading to the 18th hole when he picked up his only bogey of the day. He missed the green to the right with his approach and then failed to get up and down.
"I was nearly bogey-free today. I just dropped that one on the last," he said. "That's good golf around here. And it's also good to get those rounds in before a major next week where dropped shots are so costly."
Most players, including Scott, come to the Bridgestone because it's a limited field (73 players) with a rich purse ($8.75 million), a huge first-place check ($1.5 million) — and no cut.
But they also like coming to an historic, tree-lined layout which offers at least a glimpse of what they might face in the year's final major championship.
Scott believes he made strides this week to contend next week.
"I've done what I needed to do the last couple of days," he said. "I'm going to go and hit some more balls tonight and keep the good feelings. I've been driving it a little better since Thursday, and I feel it's getting to where I would like it to be. By next Thursday, I can be really sharp."
DIVOTS: Luke Donald hit his drive on the par-4 eighth hole into the rough left of the fairway. Marshals did not move the gallery very far back off the ropes, resulting in Donald hitting a low, screaming shot out of the hay that had fans ducking and yelling, "Head's up!" ... Woods' final-round scoring average when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead is 70.518. ... The seven-shot lead by Woods is the largest on tour this year. ... There were no bogey-free rounds on Saturday. ... The 73 players will go off in pairs (except for Jaco Van Zyl, who tees off first) off the first tee. Woods and Henrik Stenson will be paired in the final group at 2:05 p.m.
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