Aug 12 2013
Not many major champions spend part of their press conference afterwards talking about cultivating oak trees, but not many major champions are like US PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.
Very few, if any, have inspired an internet craze which involves lying slumped against a wall, gazing straight ahead with a blank stare, arms rigidly by your side.
Very few play the game with a deadpan expression more suitable to a poker table than a golf course, but very few have also shot a round of 63 in a major championship and gone on to lift the trophy at the end of the week.
Dufner can lay claim to all of those things after his second round of 63 at Oak Hill - he left a 12ft putt short on the last for an historic 62 - helped him claim a maiden major title on Sunday, joining Johnny Miller, Ray Floyd, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in an exclusive club.
"I came off an unbelievable round on Friday, the course record here at Oak Hill, tied the lowest score ever in a major championship, and Saturday was a real struggle for me," said Dufner, who went from halfway leader to one behind Jim Furyk.
"For some reason when you shoot such a low score, it's hard to back that up. But my goal was to stay in touch with whatever the lead might have been; if I was in the lead or if I was close to the lead, I felt like if I could get to Sunday, I would be really confident going into Sunday.
"I've had leads in majors and not pulled through. I always felt like that was going to make me a better player and more confident the next time that I had a chance."
Dufner's biggest chance came in the US PGA two years ago when he led by five shots after nearest challenger Keegan Bradley triple-bogeyed the 15th, only to find water on the same hole minutes later. After doing well to escape with a bogey there, he failed to get up and down from sand on the next and then three-putted the 17th.
Bradley had rebounded with birdies on the 16th and 17th and after both men parred the 18th to go into a three-hole play-off, Bradley won by a shot to become the first player to capture a major with a long putter.
The two went on to become good friends and Bradley, who helped kick off the 'Dufnering' craze by copying the pose captured in a charity event in a school classroom, aborted his trip to the airport on Sunday night to be at Oak Hill when Dufner won.
"I saw Keegan as I finished up and he just said 'I'm proud of you,'" Dufner said.
"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.
"It's definitely going to change my life, but I'm determined that it's not going to change me. There's a lot of things that are going to come up and I'm going to have to deal with that.
"I've got a great circle around me from a management team to my caddie to my wife to my coach; I'm looking for them to keep me in check to make sure that it doesn't change me.
"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.
"It was a tough year up until this point, but I always felt like I could compete in the majors because guys aren't running away with it score-wise. If you look at the majors, usually the four-under to 10-under range, you can do pretty good, even over par in the majors. I feel like I strike the ball so well that I'm never going to shoot too high a score."
And as for those oak trees, he explained: "We purchased about 50 acres (of land) a couple years ago. We are currently building a home on it so we'll have plenty of space to grow the trees and hopefully they will take root.
"We got a sapling actually the other day from the general manager here at Oak Hill. It will be a neat experience, first major championship at Oak Hill and hopefully have some of their oak trees out there on the property."