Steele & Dufner Lead a Wide Open PGA Championship
by Jeff Skinner
Take a look at the leaders of the PGA Championship. Chances are we could put Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner on America’s Most Wanted and no one would recognize them. We could probably include Keegan Bradley, who’s in second place in the mix too and he wouldn’t get any bites.
But if you are an avid golf fan and I emphasize avid, you’ll recognize Steele and Bradley as two of the rookies that have won on the PGA Tour this season. Jason Dufner has been earning a nice living on the PGA Tour lately also while he flies under the radar. He has a T2 at The Waste Management Open this year and has over $1.5 mil in his pocket this year. In 2009 he earned over $2 mil and last year he pocketed over $1 mil.
These three golfers may not stir the juices of the casual fan or have any major championship lineage but they all played championship golf today.
Steele shot a sizzling 66 with seven birdies. His only major stumble came at the seventh when he double bogeyed. He bunkered his drive on 18 and had to settle for bogey but the way that hole plays he could consider that a par.
Dufner started the day tied for the lead and looked to have the right recipe for the Atlanta Athletic Club: make pars and let everyone else self destruct. He ran off six straight pars before he broke the monotony with birdies at seven and nine. He lost strokes at twelve and fourteen before he picked up back to back birds on fifteen and sixteen. His 68 moved him to seven under and exactly where he started, tied for the lead.
Bradley started the day in the lead with Dufner and when the rookie opened with a double bogey on the first hole we all waited for him to melt in the Atlanta heat. That wasn’t his plan. He righted his ship with three birdies that kept him in the hunt. He managed a very respectable 69 that left him only one back of the leaders.
All three of these major championship neophytes preformed like seasoned veterans as player after player dropped down the leader board as they found water and bunkers and bogeys and worse.
After their rounds they all echoed the same sentiments: thrilled to be in the mix, playing one shot at a time, trying to have fun and they’ll see what tomorrow brings. If any of them play the final round as well as they did today they will have a great chance of hoisting that huge Wanamaker trophy for their first major victory.