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Dufner, Stricker find their stride in third round

KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina – Jason Dufner showed that low scoring was possible in Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship, taking advantage of calmer conditions to fire a four-under-par 68.

The laid-back American, who was beaten in a playoff by compatriot Keegan Bradley for last year's title, piled up six birdies and two bogeys in stiffening breezes at Kiawah Island to post a two-over total of 218.

He totaled only 25 putts on the challenging Ocean Course to finish six shots off the pace, well before overnight leaders Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson were set to tee off.

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"I had a pretty good day today," said Dufner. "Not near as much wind today as yesterday. I putted well, which is nice.

"That's what you have to do on this golf course because you're not going to hit a ton of shots close to the pin and you're going to miss a lot of greens no matter what you do."

The ultra-long Ocean Course is known for its wide fairways 6and elevated greens which resembled upturned saucers and have proved very difficult for the players to hold, despite the layout having been softened by five inches of rain this week.

Friday's second round was made even more challenging as winds gusted up 38 miles per hour, and Dufner was happy with the four-over 76 he ground out in those brutal conditions.

"It was pretty rough yesterday, which makes this golf course play tough," said the 35-year-old, a double winner on the 2012 PGA Tour.

"A couple of mistakes which I wish I had back but much I played much better today than yesterday."

Asked how confident he felt going into Sunday's final round, Dufner replied: "I've been feeling pretty good with my game. Yesterday wasn't too bad with the conditions.

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"Just the first day wasn't very good. Today it was nice to kind of bounce back and get going in the right direction."

Steve Stricker got off to a shaky start at this tournament but with another good round under his belt on Saturday he's feeling pretty comfortable about his game.

The American has 26 career wins but is still chasing his initial major championship title and no doubt time is running out for the 45-year-old.

"Two good rounds, so hopefully I can put one more together tomorrow," said Stricker.

Stricker remains in contention at the season's final major after rocketting up the leaderboard Saturday with a five-under 67 under difficult windy conditions on the soggy Kiawah Island Ocean Course.

The world number 14 capped his third round with a birdie on the 501-yard, par-four 18 to reach a two-under 214 total.

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"Yeah, that was a good finish," he said of the putt on 18. "You know, it kind of gets me back in it. I'm going to have to have another good one or better one tomorrow."

Stricker's third round included three-consecutive birdies to close out his front nine. He finished with six birdies and one bogey.

Stricker has been in a lull since starting 2012 with a victory at the Tournament of Champions in Kapalua.

His best showing in a major this year is a tie for 15th at the British Open. He tied for 23rd at the British Open and tied for 47th at the Masters.

He was the co-leader after 54 holes at the 1998 PGA Championship before finishing runner-up.

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