AKRON, Ohio – Jason Dufner opened the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with an even-par 70, but after the round the reigning PGA champion admitted that his health is far from 100 percent.
Dufner confirmed an earlier report that he has been diagnosed with two bulging discs in his neck, an injury that he says has bothered him since the Masters. He received an anti-inflammatory shot Monday in advance of this week’s event in Akron, and the treatment proved worthwhile.
“I’m a little bit sore, but I feel better than I did before the injections that I got,” Dufner said. “Arm’s not dead, it’s not tingling, so it’s just going to be one of those things that I’m going to have to work through.”
Dufner described the injury as “day-to-day,” and the 37-year-old doesn’t have a long-term prognosis on how the injury will affect him or what steps he’ll need to take to treat it. A native of nearby Cleveland, he sits six shots behind leader Marc Leishman after the first round as he looks for a third straight top-10 finish at Firestone.
Dufner was a runner-up at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May, but he admitted Thursday that the disc injury has limited his practice to only a “handful of days” since missing the cut at Augusta National.
“After about 75-100 balls, I start to get fatigued,” said Dufner, who missed the cut in two of his last three events. “When you don’t practice and you don’t play and you try to come out here and compete, it’s tough.”