Dufner leads with 65 on TPC Stadium Course

Jason Dufner carded a 7-under-par 65 on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West to take a one-stroke lead over Jamie Lovemark midway through the CareerBuilder Challenge, the former Bob Hope Classic, in La Quinta.

Dufner, playing the course considered the most difficult of the three in the tournament rotation, rattled off six birdies on the front nine and after making his only bogey at No. 10, and added two birdies on the back.

“I scored really well today, but I probably played better yesterday (when he shot 64 at La Quinta Country Club,” said Dufner, who has not won since the 2013 PGA Championship. “It was great to get off to that fast start on the front nine. I got comfortable, confident.

“I played a lot this Fall and I’m playing better, shooting some low scores. I plan to play a lot this year and I’m off to a good start. I feel really good about where my game is.”

Lovemark, from Rancho Santa Fe and USC, recorded his own 65 on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, including a hole-out birdie from 105 yards on the first hole and four birdies in five holes through No. 15 after he started on the back nine.

Considered a can’t miss star after he won the NCAA Championship as a sophomore with the Trojans, Lovemark has battled injuries since turning pro in 2009, but is healthy following back surgery a few years ago.

“It was fun,” said Lovemark, who will turn 28 on Saturday. “When that shot (on the first hole) went in, it was a nice little present.

” … It’s huge (being healthy). Everybody who plays our sport, or any sport, has injuries, but I feet great. I’m progressing.”

Jason Gore of Valencia and Pepperdine shot 64 on the Stadium Course and was two strokes back in a tie for third with defending champion Bill Haas, who had a 66 on the Nicklaus Course; Adam Hadwin of Canada, who posted a 66 at La Quinta; Andrew Loupe, who wound up at 66 on the Stadium Course, and Anirban Lahiri of India, who came in at 68 on the Nicklaus Course.

Phil Mickelson shot 65 on the Nicklaus Course and was another stroke behind in a tie for eighth with two-time major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who had a 66 on the Nicklaus Course; Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside, who carded a 65 on the Nicklaus Course; Ryan Palmer, who had a 66 at La Quinta; Michael Thompson, who posted a 67 on the Nicklaus Course; John Huh of Cal State Northridge, who finished at 64 on the Nicklaus Course, and Brian Harman, who had a 66 on the Nicklaus Course.

The cut will be made on Saturday after each golfer in the field has played all three courses.

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