Jason Dufner tough enough to earn PGA Championship

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Jason Dufner made up for his heartbreaking playoff loss in 2011 to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club (losing a five shot lead with four holes to go) with an emphatic victory Sunday in Rochester, NY.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Dufner said. “I still can’t believe this is happening to me. To come back from a couple of years ago in this championship when I lost to Keegan (Bradley) in a playoff and win feels really, really good.”

Dufner shot a rock-solid 68 at tough Oak Hill to win the 95th PGA Championship by two shots over Jim Furyk for his first major championship.

It was only fitting and displayed the sportsmanship that stands golf above all other sports when Bradley, ready for the road in blue jeans and tee shirt, stood by Jason’s wife Amanda at the 18th green. When Jason tapped in the winning putt, it was Keegan who was there to give Jason a hug as he left the green. This was golf redemption at its finest.

A special week for the 36 year old Dufner kicked into gear in round two, when the Auburn product fired a 63, tying him for the lowest round in a major. He set the course record at the famed Oak Hill, previously held by his idol Ben Hogan. “I’ve been a great follower of Mr. Hogan and everything that he’s done,” Dufner said. “We played at Merion this year for the first time; I was so excited to be there (Dufner finished fourth.) Dating back to when he won the U.S. Open there and all the history and the plaque there; and then to come to a great course like Oak Hill where he holds the course record and has played numerous rounds here, had great relationships with the Harmons; and to knock his course record off is kind of a tip of my cap to him, and it will be definitely something that I can always look back on when I’m finished playing that I accomplished.”

The shot of the final round came when Dufner stood in the middle of the 16th fairway with wedge to the green and a two-shot lead. His approach shot landed just past the pin and spun back to within inches of the hole, one of several shots that covered the flag Sunday afternoon. This led to an easy birdie that helped him maintain his two-shot advantage over Furyk with the difficult duo of finishing par-4 tests, the 504-yard 17th and 494-yard 18th.

Dufner and Furyk both bogied the last two holes, but the former became the latest first-time major winner on the PGA Tour, and 19th different winner of a major in the last 21 contested. Dufner earned his third career tour title; his first win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Sheveport’s David Toms finished a strong seventh place. Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion who won the same year here in New Orleans, notched his fourth top 10 finish in the PGA Championship and 11th Top 10 in major championships overall for the 46-year old.

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Top Ten Finishers

Jason Dufner – USA -10 68 63 71 68 270

2 Jim Furyk – USA -8 65 68 68 71 272

3 Henrik Stenson – Sweden -7 68 66 69 70 273

4 Jonas Blixt – Sweden -6 68 70 66 70 274

T5 Scott Piercy – USA -5 67 71 72 65 275

T5 Adam Scott – Australia -5 65 68 72 70 275

7 David Toms – USA -4 71 69 69 67 276

T8 Jason Day – Australia -3 67 71 72 67 277

T8 Zach Johnson – USA -3 69 70 70 68 277

T8 Dustin Johnson- USA -3 72 71 65 69 277

T8 Rory McIlroy – N. Ireland -3 69 71 67 70 277

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