With the confidence in his game right now, after wins at New Orleans and the Byron Nelson Championship while getting married in between, maybe Dufner can finally have success at a difficult course he has always liked.
“Pretty much every time I step on the tee this year, wherever I am at, whatever round it is, I feel like I could play a good round,” Dufner said. “That’s kind of what my practice and preparation has put me; prepared me for is to feel comfortable … that my game is in good shape. And I don’t need to do crazy and special things to shoot good scores.”
Dufner isn’t the only player feeling good about his game going into the opening round today in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
The field includes Hunter Mahan, No. 2 behind Dufner in the FedEx Cup standings and the only other two-time winner this season. There are Zach Johnson and David Toms, the past two Colonial champions, and 24-year-old Rickie Fowler, who in his past two starts got his first PGA Tour win along with a runner-up finish at The Players Championship.
Johnson has made the cut in all 12 tournaments he has played this year, though he hasn’t won since slipping on the Colonial plaid jacket two years after a tournament-record 21-under 259 total.
The 45-year-old Toms, coming off a 15th-place tie at Quail Hollow and 10th-place tie at The Players, got his only victory since 2005 last year at Hogan’s Alley.
“It’s a special week for me. It’s always been a tournament that I loved to play, and over the years, I had a lot of good finishes. But to finally get a victory, it was just awesome really,” Toms said.
Fowler is at Colonial for the third time, improving from a 38th-place tie in 2010 to a 16th-place tie a year ago.
Dufner has played the Colonial three times before. He tied for 59th place in 2009, but missed the cut in 2007 and again last year.
But so much has changed for Dufner since his second-round 6-over 76 at Colonial last May.
There was the runner-up finish in a playoff at the PGA Championship after blowing a four-stroke lead with four holes to play, then the two recent victories.
“Just from the mental side of it, just the experiences that I have had since last August, I think, has made me a better player,” he said. “It made me realize some things. It made me maybe prove to myself some things that maybe I thought weren’t possible that I could do out here. I think all of that will help me in the long run definitely.”