American Jason Dufner chased down and passed fellow countryman Jim Furyk and cruised to victory as he posted a course-record setting 10-under-par 270 to win the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club just outside of Rochester, N.Y. Furyk finished two shots back at eight-under and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson made par on the final hole to take third place alone one shot further behind.
Jason Dufner must have to replace his woods and irons on a weekly basis as the faces of those clubs have to be worn out. Off the tee, from the fairway and even from the rough, the notorious ball-striker lived up to his reputation this week as he set the course record, 63, on Friday and wrapped up his first major by setting the tournament record at Oak Hill on 270. His formula was simple this week: do what he does best and that’s to stripe his driver and just plug GIR after GIR. As we all saw this week, the putter isn’t his best weapon but it doesn’t have to be when he plays irons like he does. Dufner, like 2011 at the PGA, had a four-shot lead on No. 15 tee again this week. The outcome couldn’t have been more different as he never found himself in any major trouble and four pars coming home would have been plenty. He made two pars and two bogeys and still won by two shots as Nos. 17 and 18 were the two toughest holes on the course. Before his bogey-bogey finish, Dufner had made four bogeys and a double in 70 holes. That’s what major champions do! To say this was “coming” for Dufner would not be inaccurate. He’s now led or co-led a major for the third consecutive season on TOUR (2011 PGA, third round, 2012 Masters, second round and 2013 PGA, second round). He has continued to put himself in positions and he’s obviously learned from those experiences.
Gamers, this has been the moment you all have been waiting for from Dufner in an otherwise disappointing fantasy season. Patience is a virtue. Dufner, entering the week, had only hit the top 10 twice in 17 events. Last season, he racked up eight top 10s which included two wins and a second-place finish in 22 events. It was getting early late but as the summer approached, his game started heating up. He finished T4 the U.S. Open to remind us he should still be a factor in determining our lineups. He succinctly backed that up with a MC at the Travelers to leave us wondering if the prior week’s performance was a “one-off”. I started to buy back in after his closing round 67 on the quite difficult Muirfield. Sometimes, all it takes is just one round like that on an impossible golf course to get the game back up and firing on all cylinders. He backed up that final round effort with a T4 last week at WGC-BI and should have been on your board entering the week. Those of you who were patient will now be rewarded as he will spring up the FedExCup Playoffs race and should factor in the last four/five events of the season. For those of you who didn’t have many starts left with Mickelson or Woods this week, I hope you went with Dufner as one of your choices in Group A for Yahoo! Please remember that Dufner now has T5, P2 and WIN in three of his last four PGA appearances. The other finish was a respectable T27. #permanentmarker
With this victory, Dufner collects $1,440,000 and 600 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Jason Dufner now becomes the 15th first-time major champion in the last 19 events. Only Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Angel Cabrera have multiple majors in that stretch.
In the last 21 majors, 19 have been won by different players. Only Mickelson and McIlroy have been multiple winners during that time frame.
Jim Furyk now joins Brandt Snedeker, Angel Cabrera (Masters), Phil Mickelson (U.S. Open) and Lee Westwood (The Open) as the 54-hole leaders who have not closed the deal on Sunday afternoon.
In the last 20 majors, only four, 54-hole leaders have gone on to win. Yikes.
There have been 35 tournaments this season and the USA has won 29 of them.
There have been 11 first-time winners this season and just four players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker).
Now, 15 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 33, full-field, stroke-play events on the season. Welcome back to the club, Jim Furyk.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FIVE times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32) TWICE, Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49), Woodland (29), Dufner (36) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 13 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 17 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) now have FIVE wins. David Toms, 46, finished solo seventh for the “oldies but goodies” this week.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Jim Furyk: After failing to close out the deal last year in Tampa, Olympic Club, Firestone and the McGladrey, gamers started to wonder about how much was left in Furyk’s game. There wasn’t much evidence in the first six months of this season to advance the claims of those who still believed in him as he only racked up one top 10 in that span, T3 at Valero in early April. His game started to come around with T9 at the RBC Canadian and he backed that up with T9 last week in Akron. Furyk, the 54-hole leader, can hold his head high today as Jason Dufner beat him, straight-up. Furyk, for my money, will always be a factor on courses where ball-striking becomes a priority. Now, his current form will be a better indicator of where his game is because his history at most events is quite excellent, just like his career. I would have no problems playing/starting him as the Playoffs begin because his form points me in that direction.
Henrik Stenson: I thought about just copying-and-pasting from last week. Nothing much changed. He smoked GIR and fairways but just ran out of gas with the putter. His streak of finishes is incredible over the last two months and if this is news to the person reading this, I can tell you who is in the basement of their league/game/season/Yahoo! How long can he keep this up? Good question. He fired four rounds of par or better this week. Dufner and Furyk cannot claim that. I’m glad I burned him this week in OAD so I don’t have to figure that out! The hardest part of fantasy golf is figuring out when to get off a guy who is on fire. I’m not going to be the guy who jumps that gun. PUT ON THE SADDLE, PEOPLE!
Jonas Blixt: The other half of the Swedish daily double was appearing in his first-ever PGA this year. He didn’t look one bit out of place as he also placed all four rounds at par or better for the week. Known for his sweet putting stroke, Blixt wasn’t exactly tearing things up after his win in early July at The Greenbrier. He MC at the JDC yet found T26 at Murifield in his first-ever major. Firestone was next and folks remarked on how that course should be a great tune up for Oak Hill. Blixt racked up T59 of 73 players so congrats to all of you who took a flier on him this week. He’s now two-for-two in majors with T26 and solo fourth this week. #circled
Scott Piercy: There’s always THAT GUY on a Sunday of a major that comes from nowhere at bangs a top 10 and this week Piercy was that guy! In his last five events on TOUR he racked up three straight MCs before finishing T52 at RBC and T59 last week in Akron. He was 180th in driving accuracy and 166th in GIR heading into this week so don’t feel bad he wasn’t on the radar. His best finish in eight majors heading into the week was T26 at the 2011 PGA in Atlanta. His T5 this week will give him some much-needed confidence and points as the Playoffs loom.
Adam Scott: I remarked to my buddy on Friday morning that I thought the tournament was over as well as the Aussie was striking the golf ball. His solid ball-striking continued through the weekend but his long putter struggled to save enough pars and ram in enough great looks at birdie. He again showed his class by finishing in the top five for the third time in a major in 2013 (Masters-WIN, U.S. Open T45, The Open T3, PGA T5). Looking ahead to 2014 him and countryman Jason Day should be CARVED into any thoughts or discussions for every major (injuries excepted, of course) as these guys raise their game at the appropriate times.
David Toms: Bravo to the 46-year old for racking up his best major championship finish since LAST YEAR’S T4 at Olympic Club. For the record, Toms now has a top 10 in each of the last three years in majors. Why? He hits the ball in the fairway. A lot. And he makes plenty of putts. That’s a nice combination for major championships! He’s the American Miguel Angel Jimenez! This was his first top 10 in 15 starts this season so “buyer beware” moving forward.
Jason Day: He now adds T8 to his third-place finish at Augusta and his T2 at Merion for the 2013 majors season. If this kid is healthy, he’s an automatic selection for the majors evidenced by his six top 10s in 13 starts. He loves to grind, is long and can really roll the rock. I learned this year that you can throw out his driving accuracy when considering him for majors as he had no problem getting it around Merion or Oak Hill.
Zach Johnson: His form entering the week should have caught the attention of gamers in every format as he’s done everything but win in the last month. With finishes of P2, T6 and T4 heading into this week, nobody should be surprised with him firing all four rounds at par or better or his T8 finish. It took ZJ until the end of May to get back into the top 10 but it was in July where he started to turn it on. Remember, form is temporary; class is permanent. He fits this category.
Dustin Johnson: (No relation). Let’s make it five years in a row for DJ with a top 10 in a major after his T8 this week at Oak Hill. He started off in neutral but his 65 on moving day Saturday was backed up by another excellent 69 on Sunday to hit the top 10. He again proved his worth on a tough, classically designed course with smallish greens. He’s starting to turn his game in the right direction with his second top 10 in three events (T2 RBC Canadian).
Rory McIlroy: Welcome back to the party, Rors! Here’s what I liked this week: he made no less than four birdies in each of his four rounds. Birdies are never a bad thing for confidence and he should be pleased, after recent results, with the way he finished this week. He’s unluckily took a triple on the oddly set up hole No. 5 as his approach to the green spun 25 yards off into the pond. Yikes. After his recent performances, I doubt anyone would have bet him to finish higher than both Woods and Mickelson this week. We all know he can play and for those of us who have “saved” him for OAD and for the Playoffs, like me, couldn’t be more delighted at this week’s performance. In five trips to the PGA, he’s finished T3, T3, T64, WIN and T8. Form is temporary…
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to my chalk
Tiger Woods: Here we go again. He now has two victories in 27 tries in majors on par 70 courses. Of his last 20 wins, 17 have come on courses that he’s previously won on before. In eight rounds of tournament golf, he’s never broken par at Oak Hill. In major play, his last weekend round in the 60s was 67 in 2011. After his dominant performance last weekend at Akron I couldn’t have found a reason not to endorse him this week. Gamers should note that in his five wins this season, he’s won these on courses where he’s won before. Moving forward, Woods has won at TPC Boston and East Lake so that’s where I would fire him if you still have starts left.
Phil Mickelson: Mickelson admitted that he hasn’t been comfortable with something in his swing since his victory at Muirfield. His 78 on Saturday confirmed that suspicion and his run of birdie-triple-birdie-double on the front nine on Sunday did nothing to help figure it out. Mickelson has had success at TPC Boston and East Lake over the years so I would expect him to play his way out of this two-week hiccup.
Keegan Bradley: After playing the first three rounds with Woods and firing three-over, Bradley enjoyed the change of scenery on Sunday to fire the T2 low round of the day 66 with Hideki Matsuyama to move up 19 spots to T19. Matsuyama continued his unbelievable run with his T19 finish as well to go along with his T10 at the U.S. Open and T6 at Muirfield. As for Bradley, he was chuffed that his buddy Duff Daddy took home the silverware after taking it from him in 2011. After T15 at Muirfield and T2 last week at Akron, there should be no worries about Bradley moving forward.
Ernie Els: I thought he would thrive on a course where he could paint fairways and greens. He made 10 bogeys to four birdies and MC at +6. I’m not sure he’ll be in my plans moving forward as he’s only picked up one top 10 in 15 events this season.
Lee Westwood: He’s now 0-63 in major championships as his T33 broke up a run of three straight majors of T8, T15 and T3 at Muirfield. Westwood fired rounds of 66 on Thursday and 68 on Saturday but rounds of 73 Friday and 76 on Sunday led to the disappointing finish. Gamers will remember that he was T7 entering Sunday just six shots out of the lead.
Hunter Mahan: He entered the weekend two-under and in the discussion before a third round 78 knocked him too far back to rally. He was seven shots better on Sunday with 71 so three out of four rounds were solid on his return after the birth of his daughter. This was the first time in three majors that he did NOT play in the final group on Sunday.
Justin Rose: He had everyone’s attention after firing 29 on the front nine coming home on Friday to post six-under heading into the weekend. His 77-72 on the weekend knocked him back to T33. Blargh. I’d rather see 77-72 and MC instead! Tough one that.
Matt Kuchar: Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Kuchar found himself seven-under and just two shots out of the lead before he also blew up on Saturday for a 76. His 71 on Sunday saw him drop 10 more spots to finish T22. So close, yet so far.
Brandt Snedeker: Couldn’t find any rhythm into or on most the greens this week as he finished the week nine-over. His T66 is the exception, not the rule, with Sneds in majors. In 25 starts he’s made 16 weekends. Of those weekends he’s found the top 25 13 times. I’m over it.
Ian Poulter: His tweet after his round on Saturday summed it up succinctly: “I played like shit”. Well, then. After his 77 on Saturday moved him in the wrong direction, he tried his Sunday magic again. After playing the first six holes four-under, Poulter finished the day at even and T61 for the week.
Bill Haas: His all-or-nothing run continued this week at Oak Hill as he entered the weekend at two-under and in striking distance. His 71-72 saw him drop to T25, his fifth in 17 career major tournaments. He was 2 out of 4 this season as his best finish was T20 at the Masters and MC at the opens.
Steve Stricker: He entered the final round in fifth place but his usually reliable game let him down with 73 on Sunday to finish T12. His limited schedule in 2013 is having ZERO negative influences on his game.
Sergio Garcia: After playing the U.S. Amateur and 2003 PGA on this course it was no surprise to see him enter the weekend three-under and within striking distance. He made four bogeys on the weekend, all on Saturday, to shoot 75-76 and finish T61.
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