PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Jason Dufner finally cracked a smile, and gave a slight pump of the fist, saving all that emotion for a big occasion.
He won the PGA Championship.
Dufner played the kind of golf that wins majors yesterday with a steady diet of fairways and greens that made it too tough for Jim Furyk or anyone else to catch him. Making bogeys on the last two holes at Oak Hill, Dufner closed with a 2-under 68 to capture his first major and atone for a meltdown two years ago in Atlanta.
“It’s been a tough day. It was a long day. Tough golf course,” Dufner said. “It probably hasn’t hit me yet. I can’t believe this is happening to me. ... I just decided that I was going to be confident and really put my best foot forward and play aggressive and try to win this thing. I wasn’t going to just kind of play scared or soft.
“I’m happy to get the job done. It’s a big step in my career.”
Dufner wasn’t sure he would get another chance after the 2011 PGA Championship, when he blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play and lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. He wasn’t about to let this one get away. Dufner won by playing a brand of golf that matches the expression on his face. It wasn’t exciting, and it didn’t need to be.
The turning point at Oak Hill was the final two holes — on the front nine. Dufner made a short birdie on the eighth hole to take a one-shot lead, and Furyk made bogey on the ninth hole to fall two shots behind. Furyk, a 54-hole leader for the second time in as many years in a major, couldn’t make up any ground with a procession of pars along the back nine. He finally made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th, but only after Dufner spun back a wedge to 18 inches for a sure birdie.