Dufner, Scott together in familiar pairing

KAPALUA – This year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions field has two reigning major winners.

As fate would have it, Adam Scott, the Masters champion, and Jason Dufner, the PGA Championship winner, were paired together for Sunday’s third round at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

Both shot 4-under-par 69, which left Dufner at 11-under 208, three shots out of the lead, and Scott another stroke back.

“I’ve played with him a lot lately, so it felt like another round of golf,” Scott said of Dufner. “It was a good pairing for everyone to watch, a couple of major winners.”

Dufner said: “We played a lot last year. I played with him at Augusta, I played with him at the U.S. Open, I played with him at the PGA, we played the Grand Slam, obviously, so we’ve played a lot of golf together. We’re comfortable together. It’s a good pairing.”

Dufner had seven birdies and three bogeys in his third round.

“I’ve been hitting it all right, pretty good all week,” he said. “I made a couple putts there and I got some birdies going. A little disappointed with the way I finished with a bogey on 17 and par on 18, but I’m still in the mix of it.”

Scott played his first 15 holes in 5 under, then bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17 before finishing with a birdie.

“I hit a couple bad shots and it cost me a couple which was a shame,” Scott said.

Dufner has his schedule for today already planned. He’ll start with golf, and then watch his alma mater, Auburn, play in the Bowl Championship Series title game against Florida State.

Dufner’s final-round tee time is 10:40 a.m., and the football kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. If things are running late on the golf course, Dufner jokingly said he’ll speed up his play.

“I’m going to maybe go real aggressive on the last hole and try to get a 3 or a 6 and get out of there – no playoffs,” he said.

Asked if he would rather win today or have Auburn claim the national championship, Dufner wavered a bit.

“That’s a tough one,” he said. “I’d probably have to be a little selfish and go with myself, unfortunately, but those guys have worked really hard. Maybe I’d go with them because I’ve got at least another 25 or so events that I can pick out here to win. It’s a toss-up, really.”

* Kyle Sakamoto is at ksakamoto@mauinews.com