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 a 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: Woods carries a seven-shot lead into the final round. To say the least, he's not known for choking away big leads.
He said he's not sure what his plan of attack will be in the final.
"It will all depend on how I feel out there," he said. "I had a nice warm-up 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.
-- The Associated Press