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Checking in at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

By Shane Bacon | Blogger

Jason Dufner becoming the king of 36 -- There are plenty of talented players on the PGA Tour these days, but if you were looking for a guy that seems to be in contention after just two rounds consistently, you'd have to move your stare over towards Jason Dufner. The 35-year-old is still looking for his first PGA Tour win, but the guy has been atop the lead six times after two days including this week at the Zurich Classic. The title of "Best Player to Never Win a PGA Tour Event" used to almost always default towards Steve Marino, but Dufner is definitely making a strong push to overtake him with the way he seems to get out of the gate. Maybe this will be the week he finally disqualifies himself from future mentions on that list.

Stricker's love of the front, struggles on the back -- If Steve Stricker was allowed to just play the front nine at TPC Louisiana, the field might be in serious trouble. Unfortunately that isn't an option, and his consecutive 31's on the front nine this week have been followed up with a 35 on Thursday and a 37 on Friday. The back is known to be tougher, but it looked like Stricker would really go low in his second round after he stuffed it to just a couple of feet on No. 11, looking for his fifth birdie in a row and a chance to take the outright lead over Dufner. He missed the putt, and made two bogeys on his way in to drop down to 10-under, two shots back of the lead after two rounds.

Ernie Els finding his putting stroke -- If there is one part of Ernie Els' golf game that you'd say was pretty bland, it would be his putting, which has really let him down the last few years (especially earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer). That is far from this case this week in New Orleans, where Ernie is T-12 in putts per round and 11th alone in putts per green in regulation. He's been hitting the ball fantastically most of this 2012 season, so if the putter continues to do this, he could have his first win in more than two years.

David Duval on a roll? -- Don't look now, but David Duval is about to make his second cut in consecutive weeks after missing his first seven of the 2012 season. No, it isn't exactly means for a huge celebration, but if you're a golfer you'll look for anything positive to pull from the week, and if he makes two checks in a row, that's a lot better than the rest of the season.

John Daly misses cut badly, but at least he finished his round -- The trend of pulling out of events when you aren't going to make the cut seems to be growing on the PGA Tour, so kudos to Big John, who had no real shot early in his second round of making the cut (he made a triple-bogey, a double-bogey and three bogeys over his first 10 holes on Friday) but at least finished his round. Sure, pro golfers shouldn't exactly be receiving praise for not giving up, but at least Daly tried, closing with three brides over his last eight holes, something that sponsors could look at when Daly sends in an exemption offer in the future.

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