Jason Dufner is finally a major champion.
There was no golfer throughout the week at Oak Hill Country Club more impressive than Dufner. He played the tough course incredibly en route to a PGA Championship victory. It’s been a long time coming for the 36-year-old, but he finally has a major championship victory on his career resume.
Dufner had played well at the PGA Championship entering this week—two top-five finishes in the last three years—but had never been able to get over the hump. He finished in the top 30 of the three majors earlier this season, including a top-five finish at the U.S. Open, but he hadn’t ever finished in first place.
It became obvious quickly that Dufner was going to contend this past week. He shot two under on Thursday to stay among the leaders. On Friday, he had one of the best rounds you’ll ever see at a major championship, breaking the course record and tying the major championship record for lowest score in a round.
Dufner would struggle a bit on Saturday, as he double bogeyed the par-four fifth and bogeyed the par-four eighth but still finished one over for the round. The pressure was on for Sunday, but Dufner took it all in stride. He shot two under in the final round to finish at 10 under for the championship.
While Dufner rarely ever shows a glimpse of emotion when he’s on the course, one would presume he’s pretty happy with his performance at the PGA Championship. It was definitely one of the most impressive championship performances we’ve seen in a long time—especially that second-round 63 he shot.
Aside from Dufner, here are two other golfers who really showed what they were capable of over the last few days at Oak Hill.
Before this week at Oak Hill, Jim Furyk hadn’t finished in the top 10 at the PGA Championship since 2002. He hadn’t finished in the top 10 at a major in more than a year. He also had made only one of the three cuts at the major tournaments prior to this past week’s PGA Championship. That didn’t stop him, though.
Furyk was fantastic through the early parts of the championship. He shot five under on Thursday and entered the weekend at seven under par. He played well on Saturday too, and he came into the final round of the PGA Championship at nine under par. He was one of the guys to beat entering Sunday’s round of action.
Unfortunately for Furyk, he couldn’t stay with Dufner throughout the duration of the round. He shot even par on the front nine, and after birdieing the par-four 16th, he had a chance to take down the eventual champion. Furyk bogeyed the final two holes on the back nine, though. If he’d played better down the stretch, things could've gotten interesting quickly.
While Furyk was forced to take second place at the PGA Championship, it had to be a big confidence booster for the veteran. He definitely wasn’t one of the favorites entering the championship, but he quickly proved he should never be doubted. It was a strong and impressive outing for Furyk, to say the least.
A couple of golfers finished their weeks at Oak Hill with lower scores than Rory McIlroy, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t impressive. Considering the circumstances entering the PGA Championship, McIlroy’s four rounds were a massive step in the right direction going forward.
For the first time in around a year, McIlroy looked like himself again. Since winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last year, McIlroy had failed to do much of anything at major championships. He finished tied for 25th at the Masters, tied for 41st at the U.S. Open and didn’t make the cut at the Open Championship.
But at Oak Hill, McIlroy stepped onto the course and had the sort of swagger a major champion has. He played relatively well before the weekend, entering the final pairings at even par—albeit it was a handful of strokes off the lead. A strong third round—three under—got him back in contention, though.
McIlroy shot even par on Sunday to finish his week at the PGA Championship at three under and in the top 10. He may not have won the major, but it appears he’s ready to be one of the top golfers in the world again. His confidence is definitely back, which may be the X-factor for him in the near future.
All statistics in this article were obtained via PGATour.com unless otherwise noted.
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