James Dufner poised to take US PGA title

From slumped on a wall, it may become winning a major championship

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 5:16am


Jason Dufner is the fellow who was caught on camera slumped against a classroom wall, gazing straight ahead with a blank stare, arms rigid by his sides.

"Dufnering," they called it and he became an internet sensation.

Maybe by the time he leaves Oak Hill, Dufner will be known as something else … a major champion.

On Friday, he was 18 inches short of a feat that has never been done - shooting 62 in a major. As it was, he tied the scoring record with a seven-under 63.

"To join history, to shoot 63 in a major, that's pretty unbelievable," Dufner said. "To be leading the tournament, even better.

"You couldn't have a better putt for a chance at making history on the last hole," Dufner added of missing out on a 62. "I just didn't quite hit it hard enough."

For Dufner, it's a chance to shake off the low point of his professional career, when he squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes to play at the 2011 PGA in Atlanta. "What happened in the past with me in majors is in the past," Dufner said. "I'm still trying to chase it, still trying to learn from the mistakes I made in prior majors."

His 63 broke the course record at Oak Hill held by Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson, who shot 64 about five hours earlier. Dufner became the 24th player to shoot 63 in a major - Greg Norman and Vijay Singh, both in the Hall of Fame, did it twice.

And through it all, Dufner barely cracked a smile.

"He's very calm," said Steve Stricker, who had been the last to shoot 63 in a major and, in an interesting twist, played alongside Dufner. "I'm sure he was churning on the inside."

Dufner's popularity has grown since April, when someone took that photo of him during a charity event as the teacher taught children how to relax and concentrate.

He embraced the craze, which seems to fit perfectly with his laid-back approach.

But there were nerves, no doubt, and Dufner showed them at the very end.

"It's tough when you're chasing history," he said. "You will be the first one to do something. I don't think I've been the first to do anything in my life. So it was a little nerve-racking for a Friday. It's usually the pressure you might feel toward the end of the tournament."

That part is still to come.

After his historic round, Dufner gave up his cap, shirt and glove to the PGA for its museum. The prize he really wants is the Wanamaker Trophy.

"I'm looking forward to a good weekend," Dufner said, "and maybe closing one of these out."