Dufner keeps his cool to claim maiden golf major at Oak Hill
Jason Dufner describes himself as a “pretty cool customer”, but the American admitted his nerves were jangling as he claimed his first major title in the 95th US PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
Dufner, who equalled the lowest score in major history with a second-round 63, carded a closing 68 to finish ten under par, two shots ahead of overnight leader Jim Furyk.
The 36-year-old is famous for displaying no emotion on the course – and sparking an internet craze known as ‘Dufnering’ – but conceded he was feeling the pressure of holding on to his lead over the closing stretch.
“I come across as a pretty cool customer I guess but there are definitely some nerves out there when you are trying to win a major championship,” Dufner said.
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“It probably has not sunk in. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I decided that I was going to be confident and put my best foot forward and play aggressive to try to win this thing. The last two holes were a little unfortunate to finish with two bogeys but I am happy to get the job done and it’s a big step in my career.
“My name will always be on that trophy and no-one can take that from me. It’s a great accomplishment for me.”
It is certainly better than being famous for ‘Dufnering’, which came about when he was caught on camera at a charity event slumped against a classroom wall, gazing straight ahead with a blank stare, arms rigidly by his side.
The image was seized upon and copied by Dufner’s fellow professionals, including Keegan Bradley whom Dufner had lost to in a play-off for the US PGA in 2011 after squandering a five-shot lead with four holes to play.
“I got some notoriety for maybe something that was probably trying to hurt me a little bit and ran with it and it helped me a lot,” said Dufner, who has since become good friends with Bradley. “I got a lot of fans because of it and people identified me through it, and that was good.
“I saw Keegan as I finished up and he just said ‘I’m proud of you’. I was probably over what happened in Atlanta, 95 percent of it, by the time we got back home at Auburn.
“You always carry those scars with you. He always jabbed at me a little bit about having one of these [the Wanamaker Trophy] in his house, and thanks for giving it to him and all that stuff. And now I’ve got one, too. It’s pretty neat to come back and win a PGA to be honest with you.”