Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Overcoming disappointment in major
championship golf is one of the toughest things to do in the sport.
Jean van de Velde is prime example. After blowing the 1999 British Open, he
only posted two top-20 finishes in eight more major championship starts and
had just one more victory on the European Tour.
Jason Dufner collapsed at the 2011 PGA Championship. After a par on the 14th
that year, Dufner led Keegan Bradley by five strokes, but he bogeyed three in
a row, while Bradley carded a pair of late birdies.
That 5-shot swing led to a playoff, in which Bradley came out on top.
Dufner could have folded and just meandered along as a middling tour pro.
Instead, he used the loss as a springboard.
Since that loss, Dufner has nine worldwide top-5 finishes, including his first
three PGA Tour titles. He admitted he was just about over the loss by the time
he got home.
With the title on the line, this time Dufner fought off Jim Furyk to win his
first major championship. Furyk has struggled the last two years at closing
out tournaments and has been there before.
Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open, but coughed up the WGC - Bridgestone
Invitational and U.S. Open in 2012. He has yet to bounce back from those
defeats, but had his day.
Dufner played a steady game with precise irons. Though he hit just three
fairways on the front nine of the final round, Dufner took advantage of two of
He stuffed those two approach shots inside a foot and made a pair of birdies.
Dufner found his groove off the tee on the back nine and that helped keep his
iron game locked in.
Dufner's birdie at No. 8 coupled with Furyk's bogey at nine was the turning
point as the duo matched scores -- six pars, one birdie and two bogeys --
over the final nine holes.
The victor's final putt was a simple tap in, which was fitting on this day
"I didn't practice many four-to-six inchers to win a tournament, but you know,
it was a perfect ending for me," Dufner said.
Afterwards, one of the first players to congratulate Dufner was Bradley, who
said in a televised interview that he had left the course, but wanted to
comeback to cheer Dufner on.
"I saw Keegan as I finished up, and we just kind of bro hugged, which I don't
know how that goes over," Dufner stated. "He just said, 'I'm proud of you.'
And I just said, 'Thanks a lot, it means a lot for you to be here.'"
Dufner is quite the opposite of Bradley, too. Bradley is the fist-pumping,
back-slapping teammate that will get you jacked up. Dufner is the laid back,
chilled-out guy that will keep you on an even keel.
The personalities fit each player to a tee.
Dufner meanders along looking like nothing is ever bothering him. Rarely does
he show negative emotion, and his crazy over-the-top reaction was the fist-
pump he gave after holing out for eagle on the second hole on Saturday.
To borrow a line from Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, "slow and low, that is the
Not only does that describe Dufner's gait while walking down the fairways, it
also describes his swing.
He may seem dull and lifeless, but Dufner stays true to what got him where he
is. The rare emotional outbursts are what keep him in his own game.
Dufner does not fit the current mold of golfer -- skinny and fit -- but his
game belongs with those at the top of the game right now.
SCOTT, WESTWOOD HAVE STELLAR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS
Winning a major championship is the be-all, end-all for many golfers. Most
will not accomplish that feat.
One doesn't always need to win one of the big four to have a great season in
the majors. Adam Scott did win one, but Lee Westwood didn't. However, they
both had stellar seasons in the four biggest events on the calendar.
Scott started his year with a playoff win at the Masters. That was his first
major championship title, and helped erase the disappointment from his loss at
the 2012 British Open.
The Australian struggled to a tie for 54th at the U.S. Open. For the second
year in a row, Scott took the lead on the final nine at the Open Championship,
but, for the second straight year, lost that late lead.
Scott ended in a share of third at Muirfield. At Oak Hill, he shared the
first-round lead and was near the top of the leaderboard the rest of the week,
but ended in a tie for fifth.
A win and two other top-5s in the majors is a excellent season. Scott was the
lone player with three top-5s in the four majors this year.
Westwood was steady at the Masters, but his third-round 73 cost him. He ended
in eighth there. At the U.S. Open, he shot 77 in round two and that was the
difference between his tie for 15th and a possible top-5 finish. Westwood
would have had a top-5 at Merion if he was four strokes better in round two.
The Englishman was the third-round leader at the British Open, but stumbled to
a 4-over 75 to slide into a share of third. Westwood went 6-under par in
rounds one and three at Oak Hill, but poor second and final rounds left him at
plus-3 overall and in a share of 33rd for the championship.
The pair had two of the best major championship seasons this year. Scott
finally broke through for his first major, but Westwood failed to do the same.
Regardless, both had great seasons in the biggest events of the year.
* The Solheim Cup is this week, and it sure looks like everything favors the
Americans. They have a stronger, more experienced team, but you never know in
these team events. That being said, the Europeans haven't won once in the
United States. I'm guessing the Americans win by four or five points.
* The PGA Championship might rank fourth among the major championships in some
people's eyes, but the field did have 99 of the top 100 players competing.
Only the injured Louis Oosthuizen didn't play. But do they need to 20 club
pros? Usually one of them makes the cut and gives you a good story on the
weekend, but only three of the 20 were within six strokes of the cut this
year. Tough year for that group.
The Sports Network