School daze: 'Dufnering' taking off

By Jason SobelMarch 29, 2013, 8:19 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Golf has a new overnight craze and it’s all about imitating the laconic Jason Dufner.

It’s called “Dufnering” and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re clearly out of the loop, because the term is trending around the nation. It revolves around a photograph and the gravitational pull of social media. As Dufner himself explained the genesis of the phenomenon in a tweet: “What can I say, I was tired, my back hurt from sitting on the floor, and we were talking about relaxation and focusing.”

Like every story, though, there’s more to it than that.

On Thursday, Dufner visited Irving, Texas, where he was celebrated as the reigning Byron Nelson Championship winner. He met with the mayor, hobnobbed with event sponsors and toured the tournament’s offices before heading over to The Salesmanship Club School to speak with a third-grade class.

Jason Dufner

The lesson for the day was concentration, something that comes in handy when you’re trying to hit a golf ball in front of thousands of fans.

“It was a focus activity to help them get ready to learn,” said Tracy Cobb, the tournament’s director of communications. “It’s about concentrating, paying attention to breathing. They would stand up and put a beanbag on their heads, using that mental focus. Then we let Jason talk to them about importance of focusing on the golf course and how critical that is for him.”

By Cobb’s account, Dufner was engaging and having fun talking with the kids. Once he was done, they went through one more focusing exercise that involved multiple repetitions of standing up and sitting down. Upon the last time, Dufner relaxed a little and, well, history was made.

A local news reporter – though it could have been anyone; there were about 60 people in the room and many were taking cell phone photos – took a picture of Dufner sitting against a wall, legs stretched out while sitting on his hands, a distant look on his face. If a picture says a thousand words, this one screamed classic Dufner, the man who looks the same whether he makes birdie or bogey, whether he’s winning or missing the cut.

Almost instantly, the photo went viral. It was posted to Deadspin.com, then started flying around Twitter and other social media outlets. By Thursday night, fellow PGA Tour stars such as Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald were posting their own “Dufnering” photos, and waves of golf fans and nonfans alike started flooding the Internet with submissions of their own.


For more 'Dufnering' Twitter photos click here, or on the image below.

Bubba Watson


“It's the best thing ever,” Rory McIlroy reported with a smile. “I've never had so much entertainment. I was on my own last night in the room and just going through things. The laughs, it's just too much. The first thing I said to Keegan [Bradley] when I saw them this morning, ‘This is best thing I've ever seen.’ … It was good entertainment for the night.”

The insinuation is that Dufner either wasn’t impressed or wasn’t having fun when the photo was taken, but those in attendance beg to differ.

“It’s a classic case,” said Byron Nelson tournament director Jon Drago, “of a picture being taken out of context.”

If any player is aware of how his profile can be boosted through social media, it’s Dufner. A two-time PGA Tour champion known as a solid ball-striker, he may not have much of a Q-rating if not for showing off his online persona.


What they're saying on Twitter


“It’s fun,” he said just a few weeks ago. “Me and a couple of other guys here on Tour, we have a little running war back and forth, just messing with each other, so that’s a neat way to interact with the fans. It’s good for my sponsors, it’s good for me, it’s good for my fans. They kind of feel like they can connect with me like we’re messaging back and forth.”

Now, much like NFL quarterback Tim Tebow brought “Tebowing” to the forefront, Dufner's name is synonymous with an action verb – and everybody wants in.

“When I saw how quick it got big and how everyone was doing, I started laughing hysterically,” Brandt Snedeker said. “I never knew Dufner had this wide range of appeal.”

“I couldn’t do it [Thursday night], because I was by myself. I tried to do it in front of a mirror and it didn’t work, so I waited until this morning and got Brandt and DJ to do it,” Bradley explained. “I’m a little nervous to be Dufnering at Augusta, but I’m going to be Dufnering everywhere I go, for sure.”

He and – for now – thousands of others, too. The latest craze should tell us plenty about the power of a photograph and the massive reach of social media. The world is now imitating a player whom most golf fans didn’t know just two years ago. It just proves how quickly things move these days.

As for Dufner, he hasn’t kept that expression from the photo in the time since it was taken, instead going from stoic to smiling – believe it or not.

'I can't really believe it, to be honest,” he said. “I've been laughing for some time about it. I think everyone is really enjoying it. The Twitterverse can be a pretty fun place.'


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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)