Dufner, take two
By Michael Wiliams
GolfWRX Staff Writer
Jason Dufner has had probably the most eventful 40 days and nights since Noah floated his boat. Dufner birdied the 18th hole and final hole of the HP Byron Nelson Championship to secure a one shot victory on Sunday by one stroke over Dicky Pride, becoming only the second multiple winner on the PGA Tour this year. But his run of outstanding golf began at the Masters, where he held the 54-hole lead and looked like a potential champ until the fates took a shine to Watson. But Dufner bounced back to capture his first Tour victory with in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic two weeks later. He then took a week off to get married, and after an understandably shaky showing at The Players, bagged his second of what could be the start of a slew of Tour wins. If he had taken time to buy a Powerball ticket, he probably would have won the jackpot. It was that kind of month.
Dufner has all the pizazz of a glass of cold buttermilk. You could call him the anti-Matt Kuchar, who busts a hundred smiles to every one that Dufner manages. After his win in New Orleans, Dufner displayed none of the tearful breakdowns of most first time winners. You could find more emotion in the long line at the motor vehicle administration than Dufner gave off after the career-changing win.
But the soft-spoken third-year pro is making a lot of noise on Tour these days. His swing produces majestic draws or elegant fades on demand. His short game exhibits touch and imagination, and his putter has stood up to the jitters that are an occupational hazard for the Tour professional. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dufner discovered golf when his family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He earned a scholarship to Auburn University and cut his teeth on the Nationwide Tour before earning his way the Big Show in 2004. Dufner played hide and seek with the cut line for six years, coming close to winning on occasion but never breaking through.
He burst into the public consciousness at the 2011 PGA Championship. On a layout that was both praised and vilified as one of the toughest in the history of the championship, Dufner lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. But even in the midst of the heartbreaking defeat, he displayed the laconic style that is perfectly suited to the high-stakes golf found in the majors and Ryder Cup. And at 35, he seems to be moving into that magic moment when lie skills and golf skills converge to create a birdie-making, tourney winning monster.
The word is that success won’t change Jason Dufner. But after establishing himself as a strong horse in this year’s U.S. Open race, Dufner won’t be able to sneak up on anyone, no matter how quiet he is.
Michael Williams is the contributing editor of Newschannel8 Capital Golf Weekly and Bunkershot.com, as well as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
You can follow Michael on twitter — @Michaelontv