Of the past 22 major golf championships, 15 have gone to first-time winners. Certainly, the first 14 appeared more thrilled than Jason Dufner did Sunday, when he joined the pantheon of majors winners by strolling to the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
|Related Links: 2013 PGA Championship Coverage|
He half-smiled and fist-pumped upon sinking a bogey putt to clinch a two-shot victory over Jim Furyk. His gorgeous wife, Amanda, looked more excited than the man who just earned his family $1.45 million.
But that’s just Dufner for you, the King of Inexpressiveness. The man who spurred #Dufnering. Or maybe it was just because he was still in the zone. The guy was shooting at pins like he was bowling.
Dufner’s approach shots were so money he one-putted six straight holes (Nos. 4-9). Three of his approaches Sunday led to tap-in birdies. When he bogeyed 17, he snapped a streak of 26 consecutive holes without dropping a stroke.
The scorecard will show that he added another bogey at 18 – giving up two shots on a tournament’s final two holes is never the plan. But it was great defense. Dufner watched Furyk’s shots, then just made sure he matched them. Only his were often much better.
The performance was a far cry from Dufner’s back nine at the PGA Championship two years ago at Atlanta Athletic Club. Dufner held a five-shot advantage when he stepped on the 15th tee, thanks to Keegan Bradley triple-bogeying in the group ahead of him. But Dufner bogeyed 15, and 16, and 17. Bradley bounced back to birdie 16 and 17, and after both parred 18, they went to a three-hole playoff. Bradley triumphed by a stroke.
Dufner got his redemption Sunday. Though Bradley shot an impressive final-round 66, he was never in contention and finished tied for 19th. That gave him an early start to the airport. But when he heard that Dufner was strongly closing it out, he hurried back to Oak Hill. After Dufner sweetly tapped his wife’s rear-end upon winning, Bradley wrapped the champion in a hug, then slapped his back side.
The Wanamaker Trophy became Dufner’s to lose after he carded a 63 on Friday, his birdie putt on 18 coming up just 18 inches short of recording the first 62 in major championship history. That helped him to a four-round score of 270, eclipsing by four shots Jack Nicklaus’ course record from 1980.
The victory makes Dufner the fourth different major winner in 2013, and the third that in doing so jumped off the Best Player Without A Major list.
There’s nothing to suggest the 36-year-old will be a one-major wonder, but if he collects a second, don’t expect much more of a celebration.