Depending on what Jason Dufner does with the remainder of his PGA Tour career, the 95th PGA Championship will quickly be forgotten or go down as the real beginning of a fairy tale.
Years from now his name could be the answer to a trivia question and he could be mocked as a goofy looking guy who won a major. Or his name and face may be as familiar decades from now to sports fan as Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez are today.
The 36-year-old Dufner is no fluke. He almost won the PGA two years ago before pulling one of the biggest choke jobs in golf history. He did win twice last year, establishing himself as a top-10 American golfer. Indeed, his story already qualifies as a feel-good tale of the unorthodox overachiever who blooms late.
What separates Dufner from so many other golfers is the fact that he takes having absolutely no personality to another level. He’s so boring he becomes interesting, and in this whacky world of everything and anything being overexposed, that could propel him into stardom both on and off the course.
He doesn’t have to become a dominate golfer, but he has to keep winning occasionally and get another major in the next few years. If Dufner’s what-me-worry expression continues to stare at us through our TV screens, he’ll be difficult to forget. He’ll become something of a cult figure.
I’ll admit I thought Dufner was putting on a bit of an act – until I watched him stroll Sunday to his PGA victory at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. After that I’ve decided if he’s acting, then he’s should be Hollywood bound and make room in his trophy case for a few Oscar statuettes.
Even when he hit wedge shots to within inches of the cups for kick-in birdies – he did so three times – his expression never changed. Ditto when he repeatedly ripped tee shots down the middle of the narrow fairways. When he tapped in a 6-incher to complete his final round 68 he did to worst excuse for a celebratory fist pump in history.
The closest he came to showing us any sense of thrill was when he gave his wife a love tap on the butt after she joined him on the 18th green moments after he finished his round.
I’m not suggesting Dufner is going to dethroned Tiger Woods as golf’s best known personality, but the mop of curly hair protruding in all directions under his cap, the paunch above his belt and the blank eyes could become very recognizable.
But, again, he has to play well. Otherwise, out-of-sight out of mind and no one will be easier to forget than Jason Dufner.
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