Why Jason Dufner Will Be the PGA Player of the Year in 2013

Mike DudurichContributor IJanuary 2, 2013

Why Jason Dufner Will Be the PGA Player of the Year in 2013

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    Is it a pipe dream to believe that Jason Dufner could be the Player of the Year on the PGA Tour in 2013?

    Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but the 35-year-old Cleveland native has emerged as a force to be reckoned with among the tour’s elite.

    He’s a two-time winner, with both wins coming in a three-week span in 2012, and proved himself as a clutch player with a strong performance in the Ryder Cup.

    Here are eight reasons why he could be knocking at the door for Player of the Year when the PGA Tour’s new shortened season ends in September.

The Road to Player of Year Might Be Clear for Dufner

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    It’s unlikely that Rory McIlroy or even Tiger Woods for that matter will be able to duplicate the seasons they had in 2012.

    A guy like Jason Dufner who hits it long and straight and has a burning desire to succeed from the underdog position is a dangerous competitor.

Dufner Rebounded Well from Devastating PGA Championship Loss

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    After a devastating playoff loss in the 2011 PGA Championship, Dufner got his act together and won twice in 2012.

    It would have been easy for Dufner to go into a funk after that heart-wrenching loss to Keegan Bradley.

    He was in the lead coming down the stretch and let it get away. There have been players who have never fully recovered from something like that.

    For Dufner, it seems to have served as a career-building moment.

Jason Dufner Is Cool and Smart

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    His laid-back demeanor gives him an advantage in tight pressure situations.

    Dufner is one of those guys who is like the duck who seems to be floating along the surface but his feet are paddling furiously under the surface

    The dude is cool and he not only has a lot of game, but he’s a smart cookie as well.

    Good decision-making and talent are a tough combination to beat.

Hard Work Will Keep Jason Dufner Moving Up

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    He’s worked hard to improve his game, especially his scrambling.

    His short game was average at best in 2010, when he finished 92nd on the PGA Tour in scrambling.

    After working hard on that aspect of his arsenal, Dufner jumped all the way to eighth in the final 2012 stats.

    The pros make a lot of money with their scrambling; Dufner figured that out and is reaping the rewards.

Jason Dufner Is an All-Around Good Guy

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    Jason Dufner has a wonderful tee-to-green game and is a solid all-around player.

    There’s a statistic that the PGA Tour uses to measure a player’s complete game: It’s called the All-Around Ranking

    It combines driving distance, driving accuracy percentage, strokes gained putting, eagles per hole, birdie average, scoring average and sand save percentage.

    Dufner finished third in that category in 2012.

    No. 1 was Keegan Bradley and No. 2 was Rory McIlroy.  

    Still not convinced?

    How about 64th in driving distance, 21st in driving accuracy and eighth in greens in regulation?

    Any questions?

Jason Dufner Sent a Message with His Play in the Ryder Cup

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    In his first appearance in the biennial battle against Europe, Dufner went 3-1-0 and was steady as a rock all the way through.

    Dufner learned a lot during the event about playing under pressure. He’ll build on his performance in the Ryder Cup.

    As anyone who has ever played in that event says, no other competition carries with it that level of pressure.

    The Ryder Cup was just another building block in the process of Dufner becoming a special player.

Rivalry with Keegan Bradley Could Push Jason Dufner

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    Dufner has a rivalry with Keegan Bradley, who beat him in the 2011 PGA Championship, although there isn't yet much history between the two.

    That in itself will be enough to push him to great heights this year.

    There’s enough evidence to believe that Bradley has the sort of pedigree to make a run at Player of the Year.

    This rivalry could be very interesting, especially since it won't be watched as intently as McIlroy-Woods.

Jason Dufner Has Been Mr. Consistent

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    There’s nothing like consistency and Dufner is that.

    When he tees it up tomorrow in Hawaii, he’ll have a streak of 21 consecutive cuts made.

    That’s not exactly at Tiger’s best level (142) but it’s pretty darn good.

    The significance of such a streak is that every time Dufner makes a cut, with the quality of game he possesses, he gives himself a chance to be in contention.

    And even though he has only two wins on the PGA Tour, you get the feeling that Dufner has the chance to close the deal every time he makes a cut.