PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Jason Dufner has won his first major title with a two-stroke victory over Jim Furyk at the PGA Championship.
Dufner bogeyed the final two holes Sunday for a 2-under 68 that was good enough to hold off the 2003 U.S. Open champion. The winning score was 10-under 270.
Henrik Stenson finished three shots back.
Dufner made up for the heartache of the 2011 PGA, when he went to the 15th tee with a four-stroke lead in Atlanta. He dunked that shot in the water, squandered the advantage and lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff.
There was no such collapse on another warm, sunny day at Oak Hill.
From tee to green, Dufner was nearly perfect. If not for a bit of a shaky putter, the margin would’ve been even more.
Furyk went into the final round with a one-shot lead, and it looked as if this might be his day when he rolled in a 40-footer across the sixth green for a birdie. But Dufner seized control just before the turn.
With the final group tied at 10 under on the eighth hole, Furyk appeared to have a slight edge when his approach plopped down about 12 feet left of the flag. But, in quite a display of one-upmanship, Dufner’s shot spun back from above the hole and came to a stop about a foot from the cup.
Furyk missed his birdie try. Dufner tapped his in to edge back ahead.
When Furyk made bogey at the ninth, Dufner had a two-stroke lead heading to the back side. Furyk never got any closer. They matched birdies at the 16th, where Furyk rolled in a 12-footer and Dufner tapped in again after another brilliant iron shot. They matched bogeys at the 17th, where Dufner three-putted and Furyk needed two shots to escape the thick rough ringing the green.
Finally, at the 18th, Furyk’s second shot found the rough again, leading to another bogey and a 71 total. Dufner also came up short with his second shot, chipped on and putted twice for the victory. He actually pumped both fists, about as much emotion as he’ll ever show.
Stenson closed with an even-par 70 and finished at 7 under, missing a chance to become the first Swedish male to capture a major championship. Countryman Jonas Blixt was another stroke back, also closing with a 70.
The 43-year-old Furyk was trying to give golf another middle-aged champion. Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson captured the British Open at age 43. The last time golf had back-to-back major champions in their 40s was 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters and Raymond Floyd followed with a victory in the U.S. Open.
Instead, it was Dufner winning his first at age 36. Now he’ll be known for something more than that memorable picture of him slumped against the wall of an elementary school during a charity appearance — arms stiffly at his side, eyes glazed over — which led to the craze known as “Dufnering.”
Mickelson wasn’t a factor at Oak Hill. He shot 72 to finish 12 over, tied for 72nd position when he headed for home, his day done before the guys in contention for the Wanamaker Trophy even teed off.
Tiger Woods was an also-ran, as well, wrapping up his fifth straight year without a major title. He did play well down the stretch, making birdies on three of the last six holes. But all that got him was a 70, leaving him at 4-over 284 for the week. He never shot in the 60s, despite much easier scoring conditions the first two days and warm, sunny weather the last two.
Woods is 0-for-18 in the Grand Slam events since winning the U.S. Open in 2008, leaving him at 14 major championships in his career and still four behind the record held by Jack Nicklaus.
Coming off his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year, a seven-stroke runaway at the Bridgestone, Woods never got anything going in the final major the year.
Tim Clark had the shot of the day among the early starters, a hole-in-one at the 11th. He knocked it in from 220 yards with a hybrid.
Photo via Twitter/@EASPORTSGOLF
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