by Jeff Skinner
It not only was a great day at the PGA Championship, it was an historic one. Jason Dufner, of “Dufnering” fame, wrote his name into the history books as he tied the record for low round in a major.
His became the 24th golfer to shoot 63 in a major and set a new Oak Hill course record by one stroke. The previous record was set by one of Dufner’s heroes, Ben Hogan in 1942 and equaled by Curtis Strange in 1989.
I was lucky enough to follow him into the clubhouse from the fourteenth hole on a day that saw the worst and best from Mother Nature.
We started the day with rain, heavy rain and then rain again as the morning wave battled the elements and did their best to plunder a softened Oak Hill. But the best was saved for the afternoon as the skies cleared, the rain stopped and Dufner was able to take advantage of a mostly defenseless course.
With greens so soft balls would plug or spin back off the green Oak Hill was ripe for the taking. But players needed to play from the short grass. The rough was so thick, so wet, so deep that any player unfortunate enough to be in the deep rough automatically gave a stroke away. Just ask Phil Mickelson who was playing from the deep stuff all day. His 71 was a direct result of his inability to find the fairway.
I watched Dufner bring it home and his formula was simple: hit it down the middle, stroll after it, hit on the green, break out the putter and sink a few putts.
He said he was nervous on his birdie putt for a 62 at eighteen. Who wouldn’t be? But he displayed no sign of nervousness as he brought it home on the back nine.
It seemed more like a Super Bowl than a golf tournament when Dufner stuffed it to seven feet on eighteen green. The knowledgeable Rochester golf fans knew he was on the brink of history and rewarded every shot with appropriate cheers.
It was electric; those last few holes made standing in the morning rain a distant memory.
It’s not often that you get to see history being made. I was lucky to see Dufner carve his own chapter of golf history today. Now we’ll see if he can complete the task and win his first major championship.
Check out Duf’s post round remarks.