Dufner victory shows depth of talent on PGA Tour
Laid-back Dufner's stunning Oak Hill victory more proof of depth of talent hitting fairways
"Ordinary looking" Jason Dufner struck a chord with club players everywhere while also underscoring the extraordinary depth in the modern game with his impressive victory at the PGA Championship.
With his characteristic pre-swing waggle and an almost uninterested demeanour, the American does not fit the mould of a golfing superstar, yet proved to be the best player at Oak Hill with a brilliant display of ball-striking.
Known for his unflappable and ultra-laidback persona, Dufner seized control of the tournament by firing a record-tying seven-under-par 63 in Friday's second round, then came from a stroke back after 54 holes to claim his first major title by two shots.
Dufner, who plays golf with a wad of snuff inserted inside his lower lip, was ranked 21st and had only two top-10s in 17 starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, though both came in big events with ties for fourth at the US Open and also at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Undoubtedly his agonising experience of losing the 2011 PGA Championship in a playoff to good friend Keegan Bradley, after letting slip a late five-stroke lead, helped him on Sunday.
But Dufner never felt he truly belonged in the select group of major winners until his breakthrough at Oak Hill Country Club.
"I don't think you can ever claim to belong with a group of guys who have won majors until you've done it," said Dufner, who secured his third career victory on the PGA Tour with a closing two-under-par 68 on a challenging East Course layout.
"So, it's a great accomplishment. Hopefully it will propel me to some better things, some better golf, some more tournaments won, majors won, more Ryder Cups, more Presidents Cups."
Asked how much he expected his life to change following his first major victory, Dufner replied with a typically dead-pan expression: "It's definitely going to change my life, but I'm determined that it's not going to change me.
"There are a lot of things that are going to come up tournament-wise, different tournaments I can play in, different opportunities that are going to come my way, and I'm going to have to deal with that. It's going to be a difficult task."
On a glorious, sun-splashed afternoon at Oak Hill, Dufner delivered a superb display of ice-cool golf to become the 19th different winner in the past 21 majors, once again underlining the astonishing depth in strength in the modern game.
"You put the top 100 guys in a row on the range and watch them hit a ball, and you can't really tell the difference," said Rory McIlroy, one of the only double winners in the majors over the past five years, along with British Open champion Phil Mickelson. "There's so much right now. With technology and golf course setup, it's very difficult for players to separate themselves from the rest of the field."
On the eve of last week's PGA Championship, reigning champion McIlroy felt almost anyone in the 156-draw was capable of claiming the title. "You could look at any other sporting event, and you would have certain favorites," he said. "Obviously in golf, there are a few certain favourites also, but anyone out of this field could win this tournament."