Date: August 12, 2013
Author: Mike Clayton /

Clayton: Dufner’s Sunday mirrored Graham

For seventeen holes at Oak Hill, Jason Dufner played his very own David Graham round of golf. At the 1981 U.S Open Graham precisely dismantled Merion shot by shot and hole-by-hole hitting every green and overtaking the third round leader George Burns to win by three shots. Dufner started behind Jim Furyk but by a single, and pretty much irrelevant, shot and those as far back as Adam Scott in fifth place had a chance to win the PGA Championship. The taciturn American, who unsurprisingly counts the great Ben Hogan as his model, instead gave no one a chance as he drove with uncommon regularity into the middle of the fairways and ripped iron after iron at the flags. Only at the difficult ninth did he put himself under any pressure but he stabbed a running pitch from the front of the green to seven or eight feet and holed for a par. There were commentators suggesting his putting was going to fail him under the strain of the final nine and it is true that he hardly looks to be the most confident on the greens. He proved them wrong however by hitting perfect shots and never putting the stroke under strain. Leading by two shots on the 16th tee, Dufner faced a finish almost as difficult as Graham (and this summer, Justin Rose) found at Merion but it was only two summers ago that Dufner he had lost a big lead in Atlanta in the same championship and nothing surely was certain in the mind of the leader. Like a machine he drove into the ideal place in the left side of the fairway and then he floated a nine iron barely two feet from the hole. Better, it was underneath the cup and despite Furyk making a terrific three of his own from twelve feet Dufner could have kicked his putt for a tying three into the hole. From there the finish was anti-climatic. Both hit the fairway at the uphill 17th but Furyk missed the green left in grass so long it looked like the green-keeper hadn t cut it since the snow melted in upstate New York a month or two before Adam Scott won at Augusta. It took him Furyk two more to get onto the putting surface and Dufner s stroke finally broke as he missed from a few feet for his par after running his long approach putt past. Still two ahead, Dufner just missed the final fairway but Furyk followed into the curious (read stupid) strip of long grass that separates fairway from bunker and renders the fairway bunkers rough bunkers. Why all these American championship courses with the notable exception of Augusta National- insist on surrounding fairway bunkers with rough is a complete mystery and it makes no sense. Either the ball should run into the sand as it does on all our Australian championship courses or it should be on the short grass. Arranged that way, Furyk would have had a chance of hitting a great iron from over 190 yards but instead he hacked one out into more rough short of the green and that was the end of it. Dufner hit a good middle iron onto the fronting bank again covered in thick rough from where he pitched close enough to make an easy two-putt bogey. Probably this PGA field is the second strongest of the year behind the Players Championship and that even though the bottom end of it being clogged by twenty club pros, none of whom made the cut. Despite that, it lags far behind the two Opens and The Masters if the worldwide public affection and interest is the measure. Its real problem is in the name US PGA Championship. If you were starting golf again and arranging the Grand Slam events you would never have three of the four played in the United States. Tennis clearly does it much better but, like golf, the four events are as much products of historical accident as any sensible planning. If the PGA Championship was to take itself outside of the United States every few years and play over the great courses no Ryder Cup sell-out to the highest paying resort it could well, in time, be the most important championship in the game. The PGA in its own words is in the business of growing the game and surely that doesn’t mean only in America. Jason Dufner though is the champion and it was a triumph for fine hitting and a swing with wonderfully sound lines that hardly misfired once over a long grinding afternoon.