PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Major championship-winning careers have to start somewhere and while Jason Dufner’s was born in junior golf and raised at Auburn University and grew on the mini-tour circuit, his ascendancy can be traced directly to a single Sunday afternoon round four years ago.
Dufner was one of the least recognizable players in the 2009 Deutsche Bank Championship field when he entered the final round in a share of ninth place. A score of 6-under 65 wasn’t enough to chase down winner Steve Stricker, but did give him a share of second place in the tournament – and so much more.
With the strong finish, Dufner was able to claim enough FedEx Cup points to reach the Tour Championship. Inclusion in that event comes with a berth in the field for each of the next year’s three majors, and invariably leads to a place in the PGA Championship, as well.
It was at the final major in 2010 that Dufner earned not only his first top-25 in one of the big four, but a share of fifth place at Whistling Straits. That result guaranteed a spot in the next year’s field, as well, where he led by four strokes late in the final round, only to lose in a playoff to Keegan Bradley.
The rest, though, as they say, is history.
Buoyed by that result, he won twice on the PGA Tour one year afterward – his first two victories on the circuit. Now he’s parlayed those experiences into his first major championship.
That’s not to suggest that Dufner wouldn’t have won this major anyway, but the domino effect can easily be traced back to that brilliant final round at TPC-Boston nearly four years ago.