|Dufner beats Furyk at PGA for 1st major title|
|Monday, August 12, 2013 12:22 AM|
PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Jason Dufner finally cracked a smile, raised both arms 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 Sunday with a steady diet of fairways and greens that made it too tough for Jim Furyk or anyone else to catch him. Even with 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 4-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 bland expression on his face.
It wasn’t exciting. 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 1-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.
Furyk also made bogey on the last two holes, taking two chips to reach the 17th green and coming up short into mangled rough short of the 18th green, where all he could do was hack it onto the green. Furyk closed with a 71 to finish three shots behind.
“I have a lot of respect for him and the way he played today,” Furyk said. “I don’t know if it makes anything easy, or less easy. But I don’t look at it as I lost the golf tournament. I look at it as I got beat by somebody that played better today.”
Dufner finished at 10-under 270, four shots better than the lowest score in the five previous majors at Oak Hill. Jack Nicklaus won the 1980 PGA Championship at 274.
Henrik Stenson, trying to become the first Swede to win a men’s major title, pulled within two shots on the 13th hole and was poised to make a run until his tee shot settled on a divot hole in the 14th fairway. He chunked that flip wedge into a bunker and made bogey and closed with a 70 to finish alone in third. In his last three tournaments — two majors and a World Golf Championship — Stenson has two runner-ups and a third.
Jonas Blixt, another Swede, also had a 70 and finished fourth. Masters champion Adam Scott never made a serious of move and shot 70 to tie for fifth. Defending champion Rory McIlroy made triple bogey on the fifth hole to lose hope, though he still closed with a 70 and tied for eighth, his first top 10 in a major this year.
Dufner two-putted for bogey on the 18th from about 10 feet and shook hands with Furyk as if he had just completed a business deal. He hugged his wife, Amanda, and gave her a love tap on the tush with the cameras rolling.
Asked if he had ever been nervous, she replied, “If he has been, he’s never told me.”
That’s what gives Dufner is own personality on the PGA Tour. His pulse didn’t appear to be any different on the opening tee shot than when he stood on the 18th hole.
“I would say I was pretty flat-lined for most of the day,” he added.
Dufner became the sixth player to win a major with a round of 63, joining Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.
He is the third first-time major champion of the year and the 15th champion in the last 19 majors who had never won the big one. Woods is responsible for the latest trend, mainly because he’s not winning them at the rate he once was.
Woods extended his drought to 18 majors without winning and this time he wasn’t even in the hunt. For the second straight round, Woods finished before the leaders even teed off. He closed with a 70 to tie for 40th, 14 shots out of the lead.
Furyk wasn’t about to beat himself up for another major opportunity that got away. He had a share of the lead at the U.S. Open last year until taking bogey on the par-5 16th hole with a poor tee shot. His only regret was not making par on the last two holes — the toughest on the back nine at Oak Hill — to put pressure on Dufner.
Svoboda wins Web.com Tour event
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Andrew Svoboda won the Price Cutter Charity Championship on Sunday for his first Web.com Tour title, closing with an 8-under 64 for a 3-stroke victory.
The 33-year-old former St. John’s player finished at 22-under 266 at Highland Springs Country Club. He opened with a 64 and followed with rounds of 72 and 66.
In 17 PGA Tour starts this year, Svoboda has made only four cuts and withdrew from another event. He has played six Web.com Tour events, missing three cuts.
He earned $121,500.
Brazil’s Fernando Mechereffe shot a 67 to finish second. Matt Davidson and Sweden’s Daniel Chopra tied for third at 18 under. Davidson had a 64 and Chopra finished with a 68.
Talley wins US Women’s Amateur
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Emma Talley gave the Southeastern Conference something else to shout about.
The rising Alabama sophomore won the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Sunday, beat Yueer Cindy Feng 2 and 1 at the Country Club of Charleston.
She closed out Feng on the next-to-last hole in the 36-hole final.
The 19-year-old Talley, from Princeton, Ky., had a “Big Al” mascot headcover, the Crimson Tide’s script “A” logo on her shoes and coach Mic Potter and teammate Stephanie Meadows in the gallery cheering her on throughout the match. Meadow carried a sign, “Go Emma. Roll Tide,” throughout the 36 holes.
And Talley needed all the support she could get, squandering a 3-up lead early in the afternoon round. But Talley took the lead for good with a birdie on the 10th hole, the 28th of the match, and didn’t let Feng back in front.
Talley finished the match when the 17-year-old Feng conceded par on the par-3 17th, then missed a 6-footer for a par that would’ve sent the match to the 36th hole.
Feng was vying to become the first Chinese-born player to win a USGA title.
Talley looked as if she had gained control of the match at the end of the morning 18 after birdies on the 17th and 18th holes left her 1 up at the lunch break. She extended that lead when play resumed with a birdie on the second hole and moved to 3 up on Feng’s bogey on the par-4 fourth.
Just as quickly as Talley moved in front, Feng caught up and tied things with birdies on the fifth and sixth holes and Talley’s botched chip on No. 7 that led to a bogey.
Talley struggled with the putter early on. She 3-putted four of her first 10 holes, yet only trailed by a hole.
Talley got things going on perhaps the club’s trickiest hole, the par-3 11th reverse redan where Sam Snead once made a 13 in a 1937 tournament. Talley put her tee shot in a bunker right of the green, then deftly chipped to about 10 feet and made the putt to square the match. Feng landed in a bunker on the par 3’s other side and needed two shots to make the green.
Feng regained the lead a hole later when her approach to the par-4, 12th finished about 2 feet from the flag for a birdie.
Another stellar bunker shot by Talley to about 6 feet past — she had her the blade of her wedge almost total parallel to the sand — led to another birdie on the 14th hole to again tie the match.
Talley closed the morning round with two straight birdies on the 17th and 18th shots for a 1 up lead at the break. She got inside of Feng’s 12-footer on the par-3 17th for a birdie that tied the match.
Talley struck a final time on the 18th, her approaching finishing about 5 feet past for a birdie.
Both Talley and Feng have spots in next year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, N.C., as long as they don’t turn pro. Feng, though, has signed up for LPGA Tour qualifying school with the hope of joining the tour.