Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

August 9, 2013

GOLF: Dufner ties scoring mark at PGA

Laid-back player had chance to shoot a 62

PITTSFORD, N.Y. —  Jason Dufner got on quite a roll after he holed out from the fairway for an eagle at the second hole.

Not that anyone could tell.

The laid-back player who gave us “Dufnering” hardly showed a lick of emotion during his relentless march toward the record book.

Then, finally, with a chance to do something that had never been done — shoot 62 in a major championship — the significance of the moment finally got to him.

Dufner left a 12-foot birdie putt a good 18 inches short, settling for a 7-under 63 that tied the major scoring record at the PGA Championship on Friday.

“I showed a little bit of nerves there,” he conceded. “That’s one where you’d like to gun it when you have a chance at history. But I was able to two-putt and share a little bit of history.”

Indeed, it was quite a round.

Dufner became the 12th player to shoot 63 in the PGA Championship. Steve Stricker was the most recent to do it, in the opening round two years ago at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Overall, it is the 26th time a player has shot 63 in a major. It has been done at all four of golf’s biggest events.

“The history of the game is something dear to my heart,” Dufner said. “To be part of history, to be there forever, is a neat accomplishment. I never thought a guy from Cleveland, Ohio, would be able to do the type of things I’ve been able to do.”

He is best known — on the course, at least — for squandering a four-shot lead with four holes remaining at the 2011 PGA. He lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff.

Dufner gained even more fame this year when a photo emerged of him slumped against a wall, his arms straight at his side, during an appearance in a school classroom. Fans took the Internet to post pictures of themselves in various states of “Dufnering.”

He had plenty of momentum after the second hole, when a sand wedge from 105 yards landed above the flag and spun back into the cup. In what passes for emotion in Dufner’s world, he doled out a couple of fist bumps to his playing partners.

That was it.

Dufner tacked on five birdies in his bogey-free round, which left him with a two-stroke lead as he walked to the clubhouse.

Dufner was at 9-under 131 midway through the tournament, tying the 36-hole PGA scoring record held by six other players. Shingo Katayama and David Toms were the last to do it, at the 2001 PGA in Atlanta.

But Dufner is hardly in the clear, not on a course that has been easy pickings for the world’s best players with its rain-softened greens.

During a round that began in dreary rain and finished in bright sunshine, Webb Simpson shot 64 to tie the course scoring record that was shared by Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange. That lasted only a few hours, before Dufner came along to beat them all.

There were 60s all over the board.

Just not from Tiger Woods.

Mired in the longest major drought of his career, he plodded to a 70 that left him at 1-over 141 for the tournament, a staggering 10 strokes off the lead and facing the very real prospect of being 0 for 18 in the big events since his 2008 victory at the U.S. Open.

Others fared better.

Matt Kuchar shot 66, while 18-hole co-leaders Adam Scott and Jim Furyk both posted 68s, leaving all three tied at 7 under. U.S. Open winner Justin Rose, bouncing back from missing the cut at the British Open, shot 6-under 29 over his final nine holes for a 66 that left him three shots behind Dufner. Henrik Stenson also was 6 under after a 66 of his own. Robert Garrigus (68) and Steve Stricker (67) were 5 under.

Scott is a serious contender for fourth time in the last six majors.

“The platform has never been better for me to go on and win multiple majors,” Scott said. “You’ve got to take the confidence and form of winning a major and run with it.”

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