PGA Championship Wrap-Up: Cleveland Rocks!
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/11/13

On Sunday, the chief pursuers behind the final group of Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner simply could not make up any ground on Oak Hill's East Course. Both Swedes in the bunch, Jonas Blixt and Henrik Stenson stubbed themselves with four bogeys. To his credit, Blixt made five birdies, while Stenson registered an eagle at the par-5 4th. All the same, Blixt did quite well in only his second-ever major championship; he made the cut at the Open championship at Muirfield, finishing T-26. With two bogeys on the closing nine, Stenson finished at -7 for his seventh top-ten in the majors.

Adam Scott went back-and-forth on the East Course, finishing with an even-par 70. Any chance the Aussie had evaporated at the 13th, when his approach at the par-5 13th wound up short of the hole in deep rough. His pitch shot never even made it to the green, plonking down in equally deep cabbage.

The Last Golfers Standing

Jim Furyk had difficulty gaining any advantage on Sunday. His single birdie at the par-3 6th evaporated with he bogeyed the 9th. On the closing nine, Furyk had trouble controlling his approach shots, which required several time-consuming green reads from his caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan.

Jason Dufner, on the other hand, was so good with his mid- and short-irons that he one-putted six straight greens — from 4 through 9. That resulted in birdies at 4, 5, and 8. At the 5th, Dufner's javelin approach stopped 12 inches away, while at the 8th, his approach was right on the line and finished less than 12 inches away. As a result, Dufner held a two-shot lead over Furyk as they entered the pressure-cooker of the final nine holes of the 95th PGA Championship.

Dufner just missed a birdie at 12, as his ball refused to break one inch further left. At 13, Dufner left his putt short — a problem he had most of Saturday.

Furyk, on the other hand, couldn't find the hole with his approach shots, resulting in several lengthy two-putts. just missed another Dufner hit the green at 15, but his ball tottled off into the fringe, from which Dufner hit a lovely 35-foot hybrid to three feet. Furyk hit the short side of the green, but his from-another-area-code first putt slid right to six feet. Furyk did well to make par.

At the 16th tee and maintaining a two-shot lead with three to play, Dufner smoked his drive right down the middle, then spun his approach shot to just 12 inches! Meanwhile, Furyk just missed the fairway, but coaxed his approach to ten feet. Two behind, he really needed that putt for birdie — and got it. The problem for Furyk was that Dufner calmly stroked home his own birdie, and thereby turned the proverbial screws on Furyk so tight that only a miracle finish could save him.

At 17, Dufner's approach hit the green, but way right. His lengthy birdie putt did well to finish 4 1/2 feet beyond. Furyk's approach landed in the rough so deep that he couldn't flop it onto the green. His pitch for par of the rough slid by the hole, resulting in a seemingly momentum-killing bogey. But Dufner's own par-saver slid left for a bogey of his own, so the lead was back to two. Dufner had gone 26 consecutive holes without bogey.

At 18, Dufner's 290-yard tee-shot missed the right side of the fairway, but the ball was sitting up. But with the slim opportunity, Furyk's own drive also slid into the right rough. From 204 yards, and again taking considerable time setting up his shot, Furyk's 5-iron flew left, landing in the cabbage. From 186 yards and armed with his 6-iron, Dufner landed just six feet short, plunging into the embankment short of the green. Furyk took surprisingly little time plowing through his third shot, sending it 20 feet past. Dufner, still facing tremendous pressure, flopped a delicate wedge 11 feet short of the hole — and most importantly, below the hole. Furyk two-putted for bogey, finishing Sunday with a 71.

Dufner stoically two-putted and finished off his first major championship, having shot 68 and made scoring history at Oak Hill. He was met afterward not only by his wife Amanda, but also by a congratulatory hug from Keegan Bradley, who defeated Dufner in the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

At the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy presentation, Dufner said the difference was that he decided he was going to be confident and not play scared. The late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale would be proud. The late, great Ben Hogan might also; Dufner has paid tribute to his golf idol by making the main picture on his Twitter page an old black-and-white photo of Hogan.

And it was only a couple of months ago that we were making fun of a moderately embarrassing photograph of Jason Dufner looking rather unhappy in a Dallas classroom.

Not anymore.

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Image via Wikipedia

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