2013 PGA Championship Notebook: Dufner finally breaks through with well-deserved victory
Oak Hill and the Western New York community prepared for this Championship for months, and made plans years in advance. It was clear that the preparation and handwork paid off.
With the exception of a morning rain on Friday, the weather was beautiful, the course pristine, and the champion, well-deserved.
Jason Dufner, who blew a five-shot lead at Atlanta Athletic Club in the 2011 PGA Championship, redeemed himself by playing a fearless final round to win his first Major Championship. He shot a final round 68 to clinch the Championship by 2 shots over Jim Furyk.
From the moment I stepped onto the grounds of Oak Hill Wednesday afternoon, I knew it was going to be a special week, and not just because of the course and the players, but because a Major Championship was in my backyard. And boy did it ever pan out to be special.
With the champion crowned, and the Wanamaker trophy in the hands of Jason Dufner, I can reflect on the observations I made this week at Oak Hill.
Dufner's Style Says it All
What separated Dufner from not just second-place finisher Jim Furyk, but the rest of the field, was his style of play on Sunday. It was very simple — Furyk played not to lose, while Dufner played to win. Conservative is not part of Dufner's vocabulary. He looked like a fearless player with no worries.
One of Dufner's best and most fitting quotes, exemplifying perfectly his style of play on Sunday went like this, "I don't like stress, because stress stresses me out." The best way for Dufner to eliminate the possibility of stress on Sunday was to play well, and he did just that. He hit fairways, he attacked greens, and he made putts. The combination will never fail.
Tiger Speaking Unknown Language
Tiger Woods said after his opening round 71 (+1) that he thought he played well. He actually said it three times after that round. At the time, he was six shots back, and was over par on a soft and vulnerable golf course. The Tiger that won 14 majors and who was dissatisfied with anything less than a win, would have expressed disgust with the round. The guy at the podium wasn't that same Tiger.
"I'm still right there," said Woods. "As of right now I'm only six back and we got a long way to go… I played really well today… the round could have been under par easily."
Tiger finished the week at four over-par and in a tie for 40th. But regardless, if Tiger thought he really played well from the opening round, his body language said he was satisfied, and that says it all.
Golf Fans Will Always Be Around
Phil Mickelson shot 78 in the third round. Tiger was irrelevant for most of his 72 holes. And Rory McIlroy teased fans with a possible weekend charge before eventually fading on Sunday. It was a cavalier Dufner, a 43-year-old Furyk, two Sweeds, Henrik Stenson and Jonas Blixt, and many other low-profile players who stole the show on Sunday afternoon.
Dufner and Furyk went head-to-head throughout Sunday's final round and caused as much excitement as anyone could have created. Furyk was due for a major but was outplayed by the 36-year-old Dufner who's second round 63, which set the course record on Friday, propelled him to be in the position he was Sunday afternoon.
What They Said Live From Oak Hill
"It's kind of survival of the fittest, kind of get yourself in the position come Sunday, and that's when the tournament really starts is the back-nine on Sunday." - Rickie Fowler on patience throughout week
"With the rain here, it softened everything up and there was never any danger of a ball rolling past your number you were going to land it at. No ball was going to bounce over the back if you drove the ball in the fairway and then if you drove it in the rough, Davis (Love III) and Keegan (Bradley) today hit a few tee shots in the rough and were able to hold it on the green. We weren't exactly able to do that in the practice rounds so they rain certainly helped things." - Tiger Woods on round one conditions with his group
"Unlike other Majors, I didn't come up here earlier and play any practice rounds. I kind of went off my bad memory 10 years ago. But after playing it Monday and Tuesday, I figured out a pretty good strategy and I think it's such a good course; it's all very straightforward. You know, to play it smart is easy to see how to do that out here." - Adam Scott on preparation for PGA Championship
"I was thinking about it, once I birdied six, I was thinking about the all-time major record, and I was about 99 percent sure it was 63. It's so hard, because on one hand, you want to go for it. You want to go for the record. But you can't do that on a golf course this hard and I wasn't doing that at any point today. I was trying to be patient and trying to be conservative." - Webb Simpson on his second-round 64.
"It's been a tough day. It was a long day. Tough golf course. It probably hasn't hit me yet. I can't believe this is happening to me. ... I just decided that I was going to be confident and really put my best foot forward and play aggressive and try to win this thing. I wasn't going to just kind of play scared or soft.. I'm happy to get the job done. It's a big step in my career." - Jason Dufner on winning the 95th PGA Championship