May 1, 2012
Dufner not much to look at but fun to watch
By JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Jason Dufner finally got his first PGA Tour win but fans are still looking for his first PGA Tour smile.
After tapping in for the victory during a playoff versus Ernie Els at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday, Dufner treated fans to his trademark blank stare.
Despite his hang-dog appearance and a personality that makes Steve Stricker seem like the life of the party, Dufner is fast becoming one of our favourites to watch on Sundays.
The 35-year-old is one of the few emerging players that doesn’t make golf look like a sport that requires medication to play.
Compare Dufner’s on-course mannerisms to breakthrough winners Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley.
Watson, a self-proclaimed headcase, often seems annoyed that people are watching him golf, while Bradley makes approaching every shot look like a scene from Fear Factor.
Then there’s Dufner.
Is he charging for the lead? Squandering a tournament? Hanging on for dear life? Winning his first tournament?
You better check the leaderboard because Dufner has golf’s best poker face and he isn’t giving anything away.
Once he addresses the ball the waggling begins. After six waggles or so, he pulls the trigger. It’s all very smooth, very natural and easy to watch.
What about the Dufner look?
We’ve already talked about his facial expression, or lack of one, but how about his overall appearance.
Let’s be blunt. He looks like Rory McIlroy’s fat uncle.
He’s got big pleats in his pants that send a strong message to the frat boys on the PGA Tour that getting dressed should not take a man more than five minutes. He’s got shaggy curls of hair hanging out from his hat and a few extra pounds hanging out from his belt.
What he also has under his hat is his first win, a top-20 spot in the world rankings and a top-10 place in the FedEx Cup standings.
Golf fans love to talk about the best player to never win a major. What about the best player to never win a tournament?
Dufner’s first PGA Tour victory after eight top 10s in a year and a half puts that title up for grabs.
Players who play primarily on the European Tour and have won there but not on the PGA, such as Edoardo Molinari and Thomas Bjorn, don’t qualify for this title.
Our winner — or is it loser? — is just 23 years old and has earned more than $6 million in his career. He has 15 PGA Tour top 10s and four runner-ups.
He’s the youngest player to ever play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team and he’s our best player never to have won a tournament … he’s Rickie Fowler.
Before anyone thinks of sending me an e-mail, I will not recognize his victory at the Kolon Korea Open on the OneAsia tour.
If Fowler is hoping to be American golf’s next big thing, he needs to win on the PGA Tour. And we think that day will come sooner than later.
Fowler switched back to a cross-handed putting grip last week and found himself in the top 10 for just the second time this season.
He has had some success at Quail Hollow before and could be one to watch this week at the Wells Fargo Championship.
FANS ASK TIGER
Tiger Woods played softball with his fans on Monday.
On a video posted to his website, the 14-time major champion answered 20 handpicked questions submitted by fans via social media.
The video Q&A was held in place of Woods’ regular pre-tournament press conference prior to this week’s Wells Fargo Championship.
He didn’t say much of interest, but Woods did confirm what Sean Foley told us about Tiger’s swing at the Masters.
During an interview on the range at Augusta National, Foley explained that Tiger’s problem during his disastrous second round at the season’s first major was “all posture and distance from the ball.”
In Monday’s video Woods said, “At the Masters I was kind of struggling with my ball-striking a little bit and Sean and I fixed it. It had to do with my posture. My setup wasn’t quite right so we worked on that. It’s getting dialed it.”
Woods did not comment on recent comments by Foley to Sirius/XM radio that “the tearing down” of Tiger in the media is “out of hand.”
GOOD COURSE, OF COURSE
The PGA Tour is chock-full of great golfers and great golf courses but the next seven weeks will be a particularly fun time to be a fan. The sport’s top names are back this week at one of their favourite courses, Quail Hollow in Charlotte. The Wells Fargo Championship will feature Woods, McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in the field ... and Mike Weir.
Next week is the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass which boasts one of the best fields of the year as well as the fan-favourite “Island Green” 17th hole.
After that, there are notable stops in Texas at Colonial and in Ohio at Muirfield Village before the golf world descends on San Francisco’s Olympic Club in mid-June for the U.S. Open.