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Dufner takes Glory's Last Shot

Alex Perry
August 11, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Dufner pleased with first major win

Two years ago, Jason Dufner led the US PGA Championship by five shots before a spectacular back-nine collapse handed Keegan Bradley victory on his major debut.

There were no such problems this time around.

Dufner, vying with Jim Furyk from the off, was a model of perfection off the tee, and quite masterful on the greens.

How many times have we seen the leader of a major championship get shaky with the driver? And that includes Dufner in 2011. But everything seemed to find the short stuff - and when he reached the dancefloor he simply could not miss - including an astonishing run of six single-putts from the fourth hole.

Dufner's incredible accuracy meant he reached the turn in just 32 shots - three-under for the day and 11-under for the Championship - and with a two-stroke lead.

But, with Atlanta so fresh in the mind, there was no chance Dufner was going to relax and he kept his focus and kept hitting fairways. He could even be forgiven for his touch on the green deserting him slightly on the back nine, but he continued to make pars and, in the end, it was enough to etch his name on the Wanamaker Trophy.

But it was not just Sunday that Dufner impressed. His second-round 63 was a course record here at Oak Hill - and the final putt fell just short of the first ever 62 in a major championship.

Furyk will be disappointed with his efforts on the final day, having spent the whole final round keeping Dufner at arm's length, rather than going in and trying to get him in a headlock. It was matchplay golf, and, just like many times at the Ryder Cup, Furyk let himself down.

His club choice at the par-3 15th epitomised this. Dufner punched his ball long and into the rough, but Furyk turned to his long-term caddie Mike 'Fluff' Cowan and asked for a seven-iron, rather than the six needed to attack the pin.

It was a shame, because it turned what could have been an epic tussle down the stretch into nothing more than a ceremonial procession for Dufner.

Typical of the man's coolness-personified exterior, Dufner could barely crack a smile even after winning.

"It probably has not sunk in," he said, when jokingly asked if he knew he had actually won. "I can't believe this is happening to me. To come back from a couple of years ago when I lost in a play-off feels really really good.

"I decided that I was going to be confident and put my best foot forward and play aggressive to try to win this thing.

"I am just happy to get the job done and it's a big step in my career."

Behind the leading pair, we were constantly reminded that a Swedish man had never won a golf major. And while Henrik Stenson did threaten to finally end that run, at one point briefly joining Furyk at nine-under par, bogies at 14 and 17 ended all hopes.

Jonas Blixt was another man from the land of yellow and blue who could have threatened, but back-to-back bogies at the top of the round meant he was always chasing.

And Masters champion Adam Scott once again proved himself to be a force in the majors, though a bogey at Oak Hill's par-5 13th ended the Australian's hopes.

For the rest of the chasing pack, it was another day of frustration. Lee Westwood continues to put himself in contention in the big four but it was his putting that once again let him down. Westwood's challenge was ended as early as the third hole, when a bogey kicked off a run of dropped shots.

The crown of highest-placing Briton fell to defending champion Rory McIlroy, who finally found some form with his drivers and irons, but was again let down by the putter. An even-par 70 saw the Northern Irishman finish seven back at three-under par - one clear of compatriot Graeme McDowell, who carded a second-best round of the day 66.

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Alex Perry is an assistant editor for ESPN and tweets at @AlexPerryESPN

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