Jason Dufner ties major scoring record with 63 at PGA

Stoic leader ties major's low round

Friday, Aug 9, 2013 5:58 PM
Last updated Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 12:46 AM
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Nothing was dull about the way Jason Dufner played golf Friday at the PGA Championship. If anything, it was historic.

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Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott, the first-round co-leader, shot 68 on Friday and is tied for second.  CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott, the first-round co-leader, shot 68 on Friday and is tied for second.

Dufner holed out from the fairway for eagle, rolled in a putt across the green for par and kept making birdies until he stood 12 feet away from a shot at the lowest score in the 153 years of championship golf. One last birdie attempt didn’t even get to the hole, and Dufner had to settle for a record-tying round of 7-under-par 63.

“Probably the worst putt I hit of the day, which is a little disappointing,” Dufner said. “But all in all, it’s a 63, and name on top of the leaderboard. So that’s a great position to be playing from.”

It was the third time in the past seven years at the PGA Champion­ship that a player had a putt at becoming the first player to shoot 62 in a major. Tiger Woods circled the hole at Southern Hills in 2007. Steve Stricker narrowly missed at Atlanta Athletic Club two years ago.

Dufner didn’t feel disappointed for long.

On a rain-softened Oak Hill, where pelt-sized divots were flying and birdies were falling, Dufner surged to a two-shot lead over Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar. At 9-under 131, Dufner tied the 36-hole record at the PGA Championship he now shares with six other players.

Dufner was alone at the top, and in the company of some big names in history. His 63 broke the course record at Oak Hill held by Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson, who shot 64 about five hours earlier. Dufner became the 26th player to shoot 63 in a major – Greg Norman and Vijay Singh did it twice.

And through it all, he barely cracked a smile.

“He’s very calm,” said Stricker, who played alongside Dufner. “I’m sure he was churning on the inside. He just told me while we were signing our cards, he was like, ‘This is a lot for a Friday.’”

Simpson also had a chance at 63 until he made bogey on the 16th hole of his round. U.S. Open champ Justin Rose shot 29 on the front nine to get back into it. When the second round finally ended, 27 players remained under par.

The cut was at 143, the lowest at the PGA Championship since 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club.

For all the low scores, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were left behind.

Woods couldn’t get anything going, exchanging birdies with bogeys during a poor putting round that led to an even-par 70. He is at 1-over 141 and 10 shots back going into the weekend.

Mickelson was all over Oak Hill and still managed 34 on the back nine until his wild shots caught up with him. Another 71 left him 11 shots back.

Dufner was in prime position to win the PGA Championship two years ago when he had a four-shot lead with four holes to play, only to be tracked down by Keegan Bradley and then beaten in a playoff. Dufner said that day he would only be disappointed “if I never get another chance.”

And here he is, in record fashion.

Dufner’s popularity has grown the past two years because of his zombie state. He was responsible for the craze known as “Dufnering” in April when someone took a photo of him slumped against a classroom wall, eyes in a daze, during a charity event at an elementary school as the teacher taught children how to relax and concentrate.

But there were nerves, no doubt, and Dufner showed them at the very end.

A 6-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole put him at 7 under for the round, and his 15-foot birdie putt on the next hole grazed the cup. He followed with two flawless swings on the tough 18th hole, which had yielded only four birdies at that point. That left him about 12 feet below the hole.

And he left it short by about 18 inches. There even was a nervous moment on the tap-in, when the ball came off the putter weakly and dove in the right corner of the cup.

“It’s tough when you’re chasing history,” Dufner said. “You will be the first one to do something. I don’t think I’ve been the first to do anything in my life. So it was a little nerve-racking for a Friday. It’s usually the pressure you might feel toward the end of the tournament.”

That part is still to come.

Low scores were available to anyone. Even after Dufner finished his round, K.J. 0 had an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to reach 7 under. It narrowly missed, and Choi made bogey on the next hole to end that threat.

Scott is swinging the club beautifully, and his only flaw Friday was not holing enough birdie chances when the rain stopped. Even so, he was in the hunt on the weekend for the fourth time in the last six majors. He will be in the final group with Dufner today.

Henrik Stenson, a runner-up at Muirfield, had a 66 and joined Rose at 6-under 134, only three shots behind. Stricker and Robert Garrigus were another shot behind.

Dufner is a student of golf history and was thrilled to part of it. But while that 63 put him in the record book, it doesn’t guarantee the trophy. Of the 25 previous times that someone shot 63 in a major, only five players went on to win – Nicklaus and Johnny Miller in the U.S. Open, Norman in the British Open and Woods in the PGA Championship.

Now that’s some elite company.

JOINING HISTORY

Jason Dufner became the 26th player to shoot 63 in a major, a feat accomplished at all four majors. Only Raymond Floyd and Tiger Woods went on to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy. A look at the players to shoot 63 at the PGA Championship.

PLAYERROUNDYEAR
Bruce Crampton2nd1975
Raymond Floyd1st1982
Gary Player2nd1984
Vijay Singh2nd1993
Michael Bradley1st1995
Brad Faxon4th1995
Jose Maria Olazabal3rd2000
Mark O’Meara2nd2001
Thomas Bjorn3rd2005
Tiger Woods2nd2007
Steve Stricker1st2011
Jason Dufner2nd2013

Source: www.pga.com

COSTLY ERROR

Woody Austin was assessed a four-stroke penalty Friday after discovering he had 15 clubs in the bag. He missed the cut by one after his 71 became 75 and put him at 4-over 144.

The penalty is two shots for each hole the extra club is in the bag.

– Associated Press


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