Jason Dufner reacts after tapping in his final putt at No. 18 to clinch the… (David Cannon / Getty Images )
Jason Dufner finished bogey-bogey on the two most difficult holes on the Oak Hill Country Club course near Rochester, N.Y., and that was good enough to claim his first major title with a victory in the PGA Championship on Sunday.
Dufner shot a final round two-under-par 68 to finish two shots ahead of Jim Furyk, who shot a final-round 71. Dufner, who received a huge hug from his wife, Amanda, as well as a hug from Keegan Bradley, had a four-day total of 10-under 270 in the season’s final major.
Furyk, 43, made things less tense for Dufner. On the 17th, Furyk left his third shot in the rough and ended up with a bogey to give Dufner a breathe-a-little-easier two-shot lead going into the final hole.
Two years ago in Atlanta, the 36-year-old Dufner had blown a four-shot lead with four holes to play and Bradley ended up winning the same title.
"It's been a tough day, a long day, it probably hasn't hit me yet," said Dufner, who set a 72-hole scoring record in a major. "To come back from a couple of years ago when I lost to Keegan, it hasn't hit me. Today, I decided to be confident. I wasn't going to play scared or soft. This is a big step in my career."
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who finished second to Phil Mickelson at the British Open last month, finished third and another Swede, Jonas Blixt, was fourth.
"I played a solid round of golf, I really did," Furyk said. "Felt like I struck ball really well but not making birdie at 13 with a wedge in my hand, not making a birdie at 14 with a wedge in my hand was the difference."
On the par-three 15th hole, Furyk’s drive was about 60 feet from the hole, and his putt left him about eight feet for par. Dufner was just off the green and used a three-wood to bump and run the ball to within a foot.
Furyk rehearsed and stepped away three times from the par putt he knew he needed to stay in contention. He shuffled his feet and put the ball in the middle of the cup. There was even a little fist pump from the usally unemotional Furyk, with the par keeping him two shots behind Dufner, who also made his par.
Stenson also parred the 16th hole to stay three behind Dufner, but with the final two holes ranked as two of the hardest on the course, it seemed only Furyk had a chance, however small, to catch Dufner.
Dufner had a fine drive on the 16th, showing no sign of nerves.
After Furyk’s drive at No. 16, when some loudmouths who had been shouting all day after players hit off the tee, yelled again, Furyk wagged his finger at them, as an angry dad might.
His second shot left him with about a 12-foot birdie putt, but Dufner was even better. His ball stopped a foot from the cup, just about guaranteeing him a birdie. Furyk was now going to need the 12-footer just to stay two shots behind Dufner with two holes left.
As expected, Furyk stepped away from his putt three times. Talking to himself and to his caddie. Furyk circled the ball as if he wanted to dance with it, then he hit it. Into the center of the cup.
Then in about 10 seconds, Dufner tapped in his birdie putt to go to 12-under. Furyk was 10-under, and there were now only two holes to play.
Tying for fifth were Scott Piercy, who had a 65, and Adam Scott (70) at 5-under, with David Toms (67) seventh at 4-under.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, who began the day at 3-under six shots off the pace, had an even-par 70 to finish tied for eighth with a stellar group that included Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Australian Jason Day.