Jason Dufner, the ultimate "everyman" pro on the PGA Tour is now a celebrity. Jason Dufner, the newest minted Major Championship winner, who has the same lower lip bulging stoic expression on his face, no matter if he just hit a ball out of bounds or knocked an iron stiff for a tap in birdie.
Oh, he's had his moments in the past.
We first heard of the term "dufnering" back in March of this year, when Dufner was in Texas for the HP Byron Nelson Classic. Dufner was visiting an elementary school, and a photo was snapped showing Dufner bored and uncomfortable sitting on the floor with the other kids in the class he was visiting, with his legs stretched out and his hands under his seat. He was staring straight ahead with a "zombie" like expression on his face. It set off a viral twitter sensation that captured the hearts of many golf and non-golf fans alike. Rumor has it that at the time, PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem was not amused.
But it's clear now that after Dufner's win at last weekend's PGA Championship at Oak Hill, that "dufnering" is here to stay, and will always be around when Dufner is in contention at big tournaments. The sensation went viral again after the victory as Dufner made the rounds in New York this past Monday, visiting most of the morning news and talk shows, including his visit to the "CBS This Morning" show where he "dufnered" with the Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell.
Later in the morning, Dufner hammed it up on the "Live with Kelly and Michael Show".
Dufner even got to ring the opening bell on Wall Street as many traders and trading floor staff "duffnered" to their new hero.
But seriously, how can anyone not like Jason Dufner now? He came out of nowhere two years ago at the age of 34, nearly winning the PGA Championship in Atlanta that year. He continued to play well the rest of that year, and then recorded his first two PGA Tour victories last year with wins at the Zurich Classic, and the HP Byron Nelson Open. He also nearly won The Colonial in 2012, finishing second which vaulted him to a career high #8 World Ranking at the time.
He finished 2012 with a fourth place finish at the U.S. Open, and also was one of the better players for the U.S. Team at the 2012 Ryder Cup, finishing with a 3-1 record in team and single matches.
Starting all the way back when he entered college, Dufner had to walk on at Auburn University. He had a successful career there, winning 3 individual titles, and finishing as a second team All-American during his senior year before graduating in 2000.
Dufner played several years on the Nationwide Tour (now the web.com tour) in the early part of last decade. He first earned full PGA Tour Status in 2007, before losing it the following year. He earned his PGA Card again at Q-School for 2009 and hasn't lost it since. But it was in 2011 that Dufner finally began to make noise on tour, and has remained inside the top 35 world rankings ever since.
Dufner recalls other late blooming players of the past, who struggled on mini-tours and other tours before achieving world class status well into their careers. Tom Lehman, the 1996 Open Championship winner, comes to mind. Lehman didn't solidify himself on the PGA Tour until his mid 30's back in the 90s. Lehman made it all the way to the number one ranking in the world during that time.
Jason Dufner most likely won't make the PGA Tour Hall of Fame, but for this moment in time, this "everyman" with the un-combed mop top hair, his trademark waggle over the ball when readying a tee shot or full iron shot, is the focus of the golf world. Don't be surprised if he makes some more noise during the FedEx Cup series starting next week at The Barclay's.
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