When you look back to last year at the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner had a four-stroke lead with four holes to go. He lost the lead and then the PGA Championship in a playoff to Keegan Bradley.
You had to feel for him. I remember his sad lack of emotion; you wondered if Dufner would ever recover and come back, especially since he had never won on the PGA Tour.
Fast forward to the next major, this year's Masters. After two rounds, Dufner is tied for the lead and playing with Fred Couples. Again he faded and finished in 24th place. A player who found himself leading or tied for the lead multiple times just to never get the job done on the weekend could end up losing all confidence in himself. He was becoming predictable and no one took him seriously. However he was my sentimental favorite. He is one of those types of personalities you want to see do well. A true slice of humble pie.
Then came the Zurich Classic. New Orleans is known for new beginnings, hope for the future and a never-quit attitude. That made our PGA Tour stop a comfortable place for Duffner. He had played TPC Louisiana really well over the years with a third place finish in 2011.
It really looked like Ernie Els, a World Golf Hall of Famer whose performances of late left him univited to golf's sacred ground at The Masters, was destined for victory.
Sometimes things are just meant to be. In this case, it was Jason Duffner's time to show the golfing world he belonged in the winner's circle. It wasn't easy; this time a playoff over Els went his way. A new day had dawned for the 35 year old Jason Duffner. New Orleans will always be remembered where he got it started, on April 29, 2012, when the gorilla was no longer on his back.
The next weekend he married his longtime fiancee Amanda Boyd. Then this past week, he holed a 25-foot putt on the last hole for victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. This time, there was confidence. Dicky Pride (Dicky's first and only victory was in 1994 at Memphis), tied for the lead and standing next to Byron Nelson's widow Peggy (Nelson was born 100 years ago in 1912), could only clap as Duffner's putt found the cup.
We saw a surprising fist punch which was a lot of emotion from this soft spoken champion from Auburn, Alabama. In Jason Duffner's own words, "You probably couldn't dream it any better than what's going on here."
Jason Duffner's Hot Streak
* He has made 12 straight cuts.
* Joins Hunter Mahan as the only two time winner on the PGA Tour this year.
* Points Leader in the FedEx Cup.
* Third in ranking for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team
* Moved from 21st to 14th in the World Golf Rankings.
This is not the end for Duffner. When he returns to defend his Zurich Classic title, I would not be surprised if he joins Bubba Watson as a Zurich Classic defending champion with a major championship under his belt. Confidence and momentum are two great things to have in golf. Jason found them both in New Orleans.
|< Prev||Next >|