Dublin, OH — Jason Dufner seemed as though he had lost all momentum after his five shot advantage disappeared in five holes en route to a third round 77 but instead of panicking made sure he would not leave Muirfield Village until he erased what was a nasty taste in his mouth.
Dufner was “pissed off” but the man who seemingly used breathing techniques to cure his putting, went to the range hitting balls for 25-30 minutes before leaving to have dinner.
It was clear Sunday evening that Dufner had recovered from his disappointment winning the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide by three shots over Rickie Fowler.
“To rebound from it, I think that makes me really proud to kind of grind through it,” he said. “You have a lot of setbacks out here on the PGA TOUR. To rebound from it and give myself a chance to win, I was going to be proud whether I won today or not because I got back in contention and that’s what all of us want to do come Sunday at the PGA TOUR.”
This victory makes Dufner the second Ohioan to win this event with the first being its host Jack Nicklaus.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 5, 2017
Dufner lived in Ohio for 10 years that played to his advantage on the final hole. As he walked from the 17th hole after a birdie, Dufner could feel the sideways rain and knew that a storm was coming.
Sitting with a 2-shot lead over Fowler, Dufner took as long as he possibly could with his final hole tee shot knowing the storm was coming but did have to tee off.
“It’s a bit of a disadvantage on that hole to have that type of wind going at that time,” said Dufner. “I kind of scouted it out as we were waiting for them to blow the horn.”
Dufner hit his second shot into the rough and with Fowler in the fairway, usuccessfully tried to lay back up into the fairway.
Fowler then hit his second shot into the rough beside the green, a shot that was influenced by the wind. When he did not chip in, it was Dufner’s tournament to lose.
Dufner certainly did not lose the tournament as he hit his third shot on the green and then from 32 feet drilled his par putt. The normally stoic Dufner could not hide his emotion, knowing that putt secured his fifth career PGA TOUR victory.
The handshake from Jack.
Worth more than the trophy. pic.twitter.com/KwYcIP6jPJ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 5, 2017
With Fowler and Dufner grouped together, the latter viewed the 18th hole as a match play type of scenario and appreciated seeing his closest pursuer beside him.
The pair are good friends, though each of course was trying to win the golf tournament. Though Fowler was disappointed with the loss, he quickly supported his friend offering a high five for his efforts.
“You expect your opponent to make the putt, but from 30 feet there on the last hole, that was a pretty solid putt,” he said. “To see it go in, he earned it, making a birdie on 17 and he got the job done.”
Fowler tied for second place with Anirban Lahiri.
Lahiri sat in the clubhouse for what probably felt to be an eternity, aided by two rain delays. He shot a round of 7-under par 65, tying the best score for the week set twice by Dufner and once by James Hahn. This is Lahiri’s best finish of the season and comes after missing three consecutive cuts.
“I haven’t played well out here the last couple of months,” said Lahiri. “I’ve been pretty harsh on myself. I’ve beat myself up pretty bad and coming into this week, I just decided to be nice to myself and go out there and enjoy my golf.”
Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar each tied for fourth place rounding out the top five in this year’s Memorial Tournament.
Third round leader Daniel Summerhays shot a 6-over par 78 to fall into a tie for 10th place.
Rain has differing affect on the field
As Phil Mickelson was introduced on the 18th green the traditional cheers were met with groans. It certainly had nothing to do with Mickelson but rather the inclement weather which seemingly is part of the Memorial Tournament every year.
Once Mickelson’s name was announced, a roar of thunder ran through Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mickelson finished just in time as the horn blew at 4:18 p.m. Ohio time. A total of 10 groups were affected.
That delay lasted 1 hour and 17 minutes though another one would occur as well.
Nicklaus departed the CBS booth by the 18th green as he ceremoniously does to greet the final groups as they came in. It was raining outside once again and Nicklaus traded umbrellas with Memorial Tournament Director Dan Sullivan. As Nicklaus settled in to his new and more protective umbrella, the horns blew once again stopping play.
This affected the final three groupings as Dufner and Fowler were on 18, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson were on the 17th hole and Daniel Summerhays was finishing up on the 16th green with Matt Kuchar.
With the sun preparing to set just prior to 9 p.m. Eastern Time, there was just enough time to get the round in with the second delay lasting 1 hour and 18 minutes.
“How could you complain about the weather we had this week,” Nicklaus asked. “It only affected 20 guys. At the end and that’s all it did. I think we had a great week of weather and if you get through a week in Columbus, Ohio without a drop of rain, that’s pretty good. Unfortunately we just had a little bit at the wrong time.”
The rain did affect some more than others and Bubba Watson did express to reporters that he felt the course played differently after the inclement weather delayed play.
Dufner on the other hand was not fazed.
“The delays weren’t a problem, it just kind of happens,” said Dufner. “I was hoping that we could get through with just one. I’ve been through a lot of delays, so you get a routine and stick to it.”
Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide final leaderboard
1. Jason Dufner -13
T2. Anirban Lahiri -10
T2. Rickie Fowler- 10
T4. Justin Thomas -9
T4. Matt Kuchar -9
T6. Kyle Stanley -8
T6. James Hahn -8
T6. Kevin Kisner -8
T6. Bubba Watson -8
T10. Graham DeLaet -7
T10. Jamie Lovemark -7
T10. Daniel Summerhays -7
The 19th hole
World Golf Hall of Fame Hale Irwin has been selected as the 2018 Memorial Tournament honoree. Irwin, 72, has won three U.S. Open Championships and had shot his age on several occasions. Both Jock Hutchison and Willie Turnesa are being honored posthumously… Dufner’s four-shot comeback on the final day is the second-largest comeback after 54 holes at the Memorial Tournament… Dufner has the second-highest score in the third round by an eventual winner (in a non-major, since 1983) in PGA TOUR history; Kenny Knox shot a third-round 80 at The Honda Classic in 1986 before claiming victory. Including majors, Nick Faldo shot 77 in the third round of the 1989 Masters before eventually winning… Sunday was the highest average score day of the week as golfers shot a mean of 73.974. Harold Varner III recorded the lone ace of the week on the par-3 8th hole. The last ace at the Memorial Tournament occurred during last year’s event when Rod Pampling aced the 16th hole.
— Matt McCoy (@MattMcCoyZone) June 4, 2017
Photo of the day
Phil Mickelson did not have a final round to remember shooting a 1-over par 73 during which he hit 6 of 14 fairways while just narrowly beating the first of the two rain delays on the day.
Mickelson’s biggest miscue was a tee shot on the par-4 second hole which went well to the left.
“Oh dear,” Mickelson exclaimed. “Fore left. Way left.”
Mickelson went over and discovered that he had a shot at the hole and cracked a joke with the gallery surrounding his golf ball. Though that smile momentarily vanished after a bogey, he did give the youngster pictured above a golf ball.
Upon coming over to request a picture of the child, his parents proudly stated that their son now had two golf balls, one from Mickelson and the other from his playing partner Charl Schwartzel.
While Mickelson may have struggled to find a rhythm, there were no troubles winning over his fans, one golf ball or one smile at a time.
He said it
“He played his round yesterday that wasn’t good and he knows it wasn’t good. He went off and got out of his way, then played golf today. Not only did he play golf today, he played smart, solid golf and didn’t get himself in any trouble, he just went ahead and won a golf tournament. We’re delighted to have Jason as our winner. He’s a quality player.” – Jack Nicklaus on Jason Dufner’s win