Birdie's Eye View: #Dufnering, Tiger's new (media) tricks

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The #Dufnering phenomenon continues to build momentum this week at the Zurich Classic, where even the 'Duck Dynasty' crew joined in the fun. It's hard to imagine now, but it wasn't long ago – one year, in fact – that our favorite Twitter character temporarily suspended his use of the 140-character social media tool.

Join me in this week's Birdie’s Eye View – a peripheral perspective on what's developed since this week last year – to examine how players interact in the media sphere, both social and otherwise.  

1. Dufner winless, single and blended into the crowd

Jason Dufner

Then: One year ago, Jason Dufner was most widely recognized (if he was recognized at all) as the guy who stumbled down the stretch at the 2011 PGA Championship – giving up a five-shot lead with three holes to play and ultimately losing to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. On the eve of the Zurich Classic, Dufner didn't have any PGA Tour wins, he wasn't married and he wasn't the subject of mass social media hysteria. 

Now: Dufner converted a 36-hole lead at the 2012 Zurich Classic into his maiden Tour victory when he topped Ernie Els in a playoff. He followed that up with a wedding, a honeymoon and a win at his second event back – the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Fast-forward nine months and his lethargic, expressionless demeanor caught on film gave birth to the golf world's latest Twitter craze – #Dufnering. What's crazy is that Dufner went on a Twitter hiatus last year between the Zurich and the Byron Nelson saying, 'It can be a little bit of a distraction at times. I just wanted to take a bit of a break from it. When you're on Twitter for two hours after the round, your wife looks at you a little funny.'

Lucky for us, Dufner retook to Twitter, and if his performance over the last 12 months is any indication, it's safe to say the best of Dufner – and #Dufnering – is yet to come.


2. Woods goes fan friendly, dodges traditional news conference

Tiger Woods answers questions from fans

Then: In an effort to make a more direct connection with fans, Tiger Woods announced he would answer select fan questions submitted through Facebook and Twitter instead of meeting the press ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship. Woods responded to the fan questions in a video posted on his website. Media members couldn't help but wonder if the controlled social media event was intended to shield Woods from questions about his worst-ever finish at the Masters as a professional (T-40) or how he drop-kicked his club after a poor tee shot at the par-3 16th en route to a second-round 75 at Augusta National.

Now: The 14-minute video answered an array of questions, but as always, media and fans were left wanting more from Woods. He took part in a Google+ chat one month later on the Tuesday in advance of the Memorial Tournament. Fast-forward to March of this year and he and girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, took to Facebook to officially announce their relationship and posted professional photos together. There will be no social media newser of any kind in advance of this year's Wells Fargo Championship, as Woods has opted to forgo the event.

Tiger is a long way from transparent, but he's come a long way in the past year. Who said you can't teach an old Tiger new (media) tricks?


3. Lexi uses social media to recruit a prom date

Lexi Thompson

Then: Lexi Thompson launched a social media campaign to find a date to her senior prom. American military servicemen between the ages of 18 and 20 were eligible to accompany the 17-year-old to her prom at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs, Fla., on May 18, 2012. “I’m looking for somebody special and somebody I can respect, that’s why I’m choosing a guy from the service,” Thompson said in a video at Facebook.com/Lexi and on YouTube.

Now: Lexi went to her prom with Marine Lance Cpl. Mark Scott, 20, a Wounded Warrior and Purple Heart recipient from Chicago. By all accounts, they had a good time and it was an experience neither one will forget. No more proms attended or social media date contests since.

It wasn't the route most traditionally taken to find a date to the prom, but then again, since when does the LPGA phenom – who petitioned the tour and was granted early membership at age 16 – take the 'traditional' route to anywhere, anyway?


4. Watson in Mass-ters media frenzy

Watson

Then: Bubba Watson's post-Masters run was a magical media tour – he made appearances on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” where he spoke with business reporter Darren Rovell; the 'Late Show with David Letterman' on CBS; the CNN program 'Piers Morgan Tonight'; MSNBC’s “Morning Joe' and he was interviewed by Charlie Rose for 'CBS This Morning.' Despite a whirlwind several weeks after his Masters victory, Watson vowed to tee it up at the Zurich Classic because he wanted to honor his commitment to the tournament. But with a newly adopted son Caleb with wife Angie, Watson was eager to return home to be a father.

Now: In some regards, Watson's fallen from the limelight in the past year. He's emphasized the importance of spending time with his wife and son, and he hasn't seen another winner's circle since slipping on the green jacket. But let's not forget about his part in the second Golf Boys' video, his #Dufnering photos with the General Lee or his Hovercraft antics.

Whether he's on talk shows or showing us the softer side of Bubba, Watson's always going to give the media something to talk about.