PGA Golf: Cool Dufner lands the season’s final MajorAugust, 2013
The popular American claimed his first Major in the PGA at Oak Hill
Two years ago Jason Dufner had one hand on the Wanamaker Trophy. He led by four shots with as many holes to play at Atlanta before three successive bogeys and a rampaging finish by Keegan Bradley set up a play-off that the latter won.
Then Dufner was a journeyman PGA Tour pro and the suspicion was that his chance of Major recognition had been and gone. How wrong that assessment has proved. Now he is a Ryder Cup player, Twitter-trending alternative hero and in the record books as the winner of the PGA Championship.
At a largely uninspiring Oak Hill he outlasted Jim Furyk to record a three-shot victory thanks to a final round of 68 and a total of 270, 10 under par.
If the scoring damage had been done on Friday with his 63 that equalled the record for the lowest round ever carded in a Major championship, what was most impressive about this win was that the 36-year-old did it the hard way, playing in the final group for the whole of the weekend. After a season in which his putting has not allowed him to record the string of high finishes he enjoyed in 2012, Dufner holed more than his fair share of putts and, more importantly, managed to coax the ball into the hole from short range even when he did not look entirely comfortable.
"Now Dufner is a Ryder Cup player, Twitter-trending alternative hero and the winner of the PGA Championship"
It was good enough to consign Furyk to yet another day of Major disappointment, while the rejuvenated Henrik Stenson will look back on a disastrous bogey at the short par-4 13th when his drive found a divot from which he would duff his short pitch from.
Much credit must also go to Jonas Blixt, the Swede based on the PGA Tour who has already won this season. He lasted the pace impressively and duly recorded a top-five finish.
They were the best of the Europeans in a week that promised much but ultimately delivered little for British and Irish players.
It is not as though Rory McIlroy plays for top 10s but this one will surely go down as the most satisfying of his career. Time and again throughout a week he began encouragingly it seemed that he would tumble down the leaderboard. Time and again, he rallied, not least on the final day after an early triple-bogey seven. On the day he relinquished his status as a defending Major champion, he will be more confident of winning another one then for several months.
For Lee Westwood, in position to set a clubhouse target after three rounds, there was another sub-standard putting performance on the final day.
At Muirfield, curiously, it was his long game that really cost him the Open. Here it was the same old story – more greens found than anyone else in the field but an inability to get the ball in the hole.
Phlegmatic soul he may be, but another year has passed when he has featured in every single Major yet failed to capture one.
And for Tiger Woods, the Major drought will now be almost six years come Augusta next spring. He never threatened here, and nor did the Open champion Phil Mickelson. It must be said that the final day lacked a certain something without either of their presences on the leaderboard.