Men’s locker room, Sonoran Spa and Fitness Center, Desert Mountain Club, Scottsdale, Arizona, 6 PM.
Bob: ” Hi, Bill.”
Me: “Hey, Bob. Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in a while.”
Bob: “Oh, I’ve been traveling a little and I’m kind of on injured reserve.”
Me: “What’s wrong? Anything serious?”
Bob: “No, just a little tendonitis. I’m just being a bit of a baby, using it as an excuse not to come work out. But I got a shot and it feels a little better.”
Me: “Oh, good.”
Bob: [Suddenly] “Hey, has golf ever been any more exciting recently?”
Me: “I don’t think so. [Jason] Dufner is doing some amazing stuff. It’s unheard of to win back-to-back tournaments and here he is just one round away from doing it again. Just amazing stuff.”
Bob: “Yeah, Tiger who? Where are all the names? You have all these young guys coming out of nowhere and they’re all playing great golf. I just think it’s really exciting!”
Me: “Yeah, I wrote about Dufner in yesterday’s post. You have all these guys playing the game at sea level and Dufner’s playing it from 35,000 feet. He’s just playing at a very high level, just tremendous perspective, and it all appears so effortless.”
Everybody who follows golf seems to know who Jason Dufner is now and they’re all talking about him; the foregoing conversation is just one of many I’ve been having lately. And they’re talking not only his extraordinary play, but also his seemingly bulletproof demeanor. He claims to have nerves like all of us, but nothing seems to jolt him out of the moment.
He resolutely plays one shot at a time and aims his tee shot to hit the fairway. But not just the fairway, the optimum side of the fairway to give himself the best angle to the pin on his approach shot. Once in the fairway, he evaluates how good his angle is and whether going for the pin and a birdie is worth it. If it’s not, he aims for the fat part of the green to assure himself a 2-putt par with the possibility that he might make the first one for birdie. But he doesn’t press, he’s extremely patient.
And because he plays with that stabilizing patience, he remains calm, no matter what. He knows he’s going to miss shots, but that they won’t be too far afield. And if you are a little off some day, golf becomes a game of mistakes and cleaning up your mess. For the first three rounds, he’s averaging hitting 71% of the fairways, 76% of the greens in regulation and a phenomenal 1.880 stokes gained putting against the field (placing him 7th against this field).
And now he’s traipsing into historical territory. No one has won the Colonial and the Byron Nelson in the same year going back 66 years. 1946 was the first and only time it was done by none other than the great Ben Hogan. And Dufner is a big Ben Hogan fan:
If I were to pull the victory off tomorrow it would be pretty great company to be in and maybe a little bit of history for myself to kind of tell people later on in life that me and Mr. Hogan are the only two to win these tournaments in the same year.
So now we know that Dufner also has a sense of history in addition to his sense of humor. The latter was flashed when he was welcomed into the media room and responded in a way that poked fun at his long development period as a Tour Pro.
We would like to welcome Jason Dufner back to the interview room here at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. You are becoming quite the regular in interview rooms these past few weeks.
Making up for lost time.
The guy is a breath of fresh air and it would be great for him and the game if he won on Sunday. But first he has to get by Zach Johnson who sits just one stroke back after a reeling off a 5-under 65 to Dufner’s 4-under 66. That puts them at 15 and 14-under and it pretty much comes down to the two of them. There’s a 7-shot gap back to Tom Gillis who’s alone in 3rd place.
You are standing in third place, but Zach and Dufner are putting on the clinic out there.
I was a little worried about that today. I figured I had to at least get to double digits, maybe 11 or 12 under to have a shot. I’m a little bit disappointed about that. But all in all what are you going to do? They are both playing great. Zach has played well here before, and I think everyone knows how well Jason is playing right now.
Golf is a funny game, come out here, give it the best you can and who knows what happens?
Yes, I’m not complaining at all. It could be a career best tomorrow.
And I just love that Gillis is actually going into the final round with a sense of possibility and optimism. That’s what the good Tour players do. And after his T2 at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens back in March, he seems to be buying in to the fact that he’s a good Tour player.
So all of that in store for us on Sunday. CBS has the live coverage at 3:00 PM Eastern with Dufner and Johnson going off at 1:55 Eastern meaning we should pick them up on about the 4th or 5th hole.