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Nick Dougherty will keep his expectations low despite his improved play recently. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Big finish in Akron has Dougherty feeling good

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After struggling all season, Nick Dougherty came alive on the weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He was especially pleased that he reacted positively to his bad round on Friday.

Nick Dougherty believes he is finally finding some form after an encouraging finish at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last night.

Dougherty, 26, has struggled this year to recapture the heights of 2007, when the Englishman won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and finished 11th on the Order of Merit.

With only three top-10 finishes to his name and occupying 55th place on the 2008 Order, a slow start at the Firestone Country Club, with rounds of 72 and 76 on the par-70 South Course, looked to be continuing the slump.

Dougherty was transformed at the weekend, however, posting a 1-under-par 69 on Saturday, his first sub-70 effort in 17 tournament rounds, and shot a second 69 Sunday.

Despite finishing 6 over par for the tournament, Dougherty insisted he had seen enough to be given encouragement heading to the final major of the year, the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

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"It was good. Obviously 69 is a bit different here because it's only 1 under, but it's a really tough golf course," Dougherty said. "I played for periods. There were a few iffy shots in there but all in all I played a lot, lot better and I'm very pleased.

"It's been a good week and hopefully it's the start of finding my game again," he added. "Mentally it was good this week and I did deal with it well because not a lot has gone for me."

Dougherty was also heartened by the fact he reacted positively to his bad round on Friday rather than going into freefall.

"I played badly," he said. "That was a bit disappointing, but then to come back and play like I did, that's not what I've been doing.

"When I've had a bad one that's been it for the rest of the week, so to then go ahead and play just as good as the first day on the Saturday and Sunday is obviously very encouraging.

"It puts me in a much better position going into next week," he added. "I've still got to keep my expectations low because it's been a long time of playing bad golf and not feeling so good about the game, but I'm just going to try to enjoy next week and keep building if I can.

"No matter what the result, try to get a little bit more of the good stuff next week and hopefully that will be the way I'll come back."

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