DUBLIN, Ohio – Jason Dufner stood in the middle of the 18th fairway 8 under par on his round, having hit 17 of 17 greens.
From 157 yards, playing to an elevated green and front-right pin position, Dufner opted for a small 7-iron over a busted 8-iron, missed his target, and came up short of the green in the right-hand bunker.
He splashed out of the sand and nearly hit the stick, but his ball ran a good 13 feet past the hole. His par putt missed low, and he dropped his only shot of the day at the only hole he didn’t find the putting surface.
Asked if he had ever hit 18 greens in a round before, he answered: “I don’t know. I think in 2015 I did the same thing – hit the first 17 and missed 18.”
Told that he must be gutted, the typically stoic Dufner cracked a smile.
“I’m OK,” he said. “I’ll get over it.”
Dufner’s closing bogey dropped him out of the lead by himself and into a tie atop the leaderboard at 7 under par with David Lingmerth.
Truth be told, he was kind of expecting to miss the green at 18.
“That’s a tough pin for me,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever hit the green when the pin has been over there. So I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
Dufner’s best result this year was T-5 with partner Patton Kizzire at the Zurich Classic, but he’s played consistently well, making 12 of 14 cuts. He just hasn’t kept his game together for four days.
As for what he’s doing to get better, the 2013 PGA champion has been focused on controlling his breathing as part of his pre-shot routine.
“I’ve been working on breathing a lot, to be honest with you,” he said. “If you read anything about sniper shooters and when they shoot, they’re really focused on their heartbeat and breathing. I’m sure you’ve heard Tiger talk about that.”