What they said: Jason Dufner

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March 22, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

Courtesy ASAP Sports.

Arnold Palmer Invitational transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Jason Dufner, thanks for joining us after a 6-under 66 in round one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and appreciate you joining us for a few minutes. Just a few comments on the round and then we'll open it up and take a few questions.

JASON DUFNER: Pretty nice round again today. Hit a lot of fairways, which gives you an advantage here, being able to attack some of the hole locations from the short grass. So that was a pretty big key.

The ball seems to be travelling pretty far today, so had a couple miss-clubs but was able to make some par saves to glue the round together on the back nine. So all in all, another solid day; coming off last week, felt pretty good going into the week with how I was playing.

Q. Talk about your eagle on 16.

JASON DUFNER: The eagle on 16, nice way to kind of finish the round. Obviously 17, 18, pretty tough. You're not looking for birdies there. Had about 210 to the pin and had a little wind in off the left, which I kind of struggled with some last week. But I was able to commit to that shot and hold it up into the wind. Hit it right over the pin, it looked like, from my angle. Probably a little bit left of where I was actually looking, but worked out good and made about a 15-footer.

Q. What club was in your hand??

JASON DUFNER: I hit a 4-iron.

Q. Why do you struggle with the left-to-right wind??

JASON DUFNER: It's just a tough wind. I think every player has a little bit of an uncomfortable wind, whether it be in or right-to-left. For me, left-to-right, probably just the way I swing a little bit, it's harder for me to see that line and trust that line of drawing it into that wind.

I tend to block it a little bit with that wind. So it's just one of those things; every player has a little bit of wind direction they are not great with, so I was able to really trust that one. Especially with the water left there. It's a pretty tough hole location there with the water there.

Q. It's six or seven months since the PGA Championship; can you talk about how that experience has shaped you as a player now??

JASON DUFNER: It's given me a lot of confidence to compete and try to win a Major Championship out here. Kind of gave myself a little bit more confidence and proved to myself that I can compete out here. Maybe not every week, but on some weeks, I can really get after it and play well and try to win some of these tournaments.

So leading up into the first major coming up, it's given me a lot of confidence to shoot low scores and be comfortable out here playing and compete against some of the best players in the world.

Q. How comfortable are you now? This is the third time you've either been in the lead or within one shot here in Florida alone?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, definitely. Played a lot of good golf throughout my career in South Florida. So I feel very comfortable down here. Obviously I'm playing some really nice golf. I've held the lead at Doral; held the lead last week through two rounds.

This week, start off great. So I'm really happy with where my game is. Just looking to close a little bit better on the weekend and try to close one of these tournaments out and try to get a win.

Q. What's the key -- JASON DUFNER: Probably a little confidence with the putter. I don't quite seem to be as confident as I would like putting on the weekend. That seems to be the weakest part of my game. Last week, I hit it probably well enough to win on the weekend. Just couldn't hole the putts that you need, and that's what guys do that are winning out here. They are holing those five- to 15-footers on a pretty consistent basis on the weekends.

Just been working hard on my putting and my green reading and alignment, and learning to trust my stroke. It's been a big adjustment putting for me. I've changed a good bit with my putting but probably just need to trust it a little bit more and believe it a little bit more.

Q. You've got a birthday coming up Saturday I think.

JASON DUFNER: Yep.

Q. Are you feeling like with all you've been able to do recently, putting yourself in position a little bit, it's definitely time to win and maybe give yourself a nice present??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, that would be a great birthday present. Turning 35 on Saturday. So it's hard to believe for me. But you know, that would be a great way to win, the day after my birthday on Sunday.

Like I said, I've been playing some really great rounds of golf and just trying to put four great rounds of golf together. You kind of need to do that out here on the PGA TOUR. The golf course is going to get a lot tougher on the weekend and the scores are going to go up a good bit. So just working on patience and trying to put four scores together.

Q. You said you had been working on your putting and make changes in your putting. Can you explain to us what changes or modifications you've made??

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, for me, I found out that I was -- my tendency was to aim a good bit to the right on all putts.

So once you kind of break that down and understand what square is and where you're aligned, then you almost have to rework your stroke, because when I aimed right, I had to have a lot of hook, because we are so target orientated trying to hit it back to the target.

Now, aiming straight, or aiming where I wanted to be, but now I've got all this hook which can really be bad. So it was kind of a twofold thing. I had to get better at aiming and then I had to learn how to stroke it better, because of the tendencies that I developed because of bad aim. I've been working on that since Palm Springs, which was the beginning of the year. Getting more comfortable with it, and I think it's a big key.

I think some of the better putters out here are probably better aimers on a consistent basis. But it's kind of been a two-fold thing, like I said, just because I was aiming well, I still had tendencies from poor aim.

Q. Would it be fair to say this is the first time you're going into a major before the tournament thinking that you can be amongst the contenders? You came out a little off the radar last year?

JASON DUFNER: Definitely I'm looking forward to playing at Augusta here in about two weeks. I think my game is a pretty good setup for that golf course. And like you said, this is probably the first time in my career I can actually think about winning those types of tournaments.

Obviously I'd like to get a victory before then. I think that would really boost my confidence heading into that week. I love Augusta. I love everything about the Masters and that tournament. You know, it's in the back of my mind. I'm starting to think about shots I might need for that golf course practice?wise, and I'm going to head up there pretty early next week and prepare for that, so that's a little bit different for me, too. You start thinking about how you can compete and win at those majors and not just regular PGA TOUR events.

Q. How did you find out that you were aiming to the right all these years??

JASON DUFNER: You know, I just really took an honest assessment of my putting after Sony. You know, you get on these monitors and stuff, and your stroke looks great, your numbers come back at the same lab, or if you go to Scotty Cameron, and I thought about it and I thought, well, I must be aiming pretty good there. Because they set you up pretty square and you can figure out where square is; but how do you transfer that over to the golf course.

I had my caddie start looking at where I was aiming, and I had my coach look at where I was aiming in practice, and one real common tendency is I was aiming right.

So it's hard when you're over the putt, you feel like you're aiming at a spot. You need help; I've got a great team with my caddie, Kevin, and Chuck Cook helping me. That's one thing we really singled out. It's been better. Especially Thursday, Friday, I've been doing really good.

I think just the confidence thing and the mental thing and getting over it and trusting that the stroke is better and the aim is better.

DOUG MILNE: Real quick, you talked about your eagle. If you wouldn't mind just running us through your five birdies and the lone bogey there with some clubs and yards.

JASON DUFNER: On 2, I don't know what it was playing, maybe 210 yards, I hit 5-iron to 35 feet and made that one. Good way to start.

7, 205, I hit 6-iron to probably 15 feet and made that.

8, I hit driver, 7-iron to about eight inches. That was an easy tap-in for me. I can aim that one. (Laughter).

9, I made bogey. I hit a driver down the middle. Hit an 8-iron short of the green. Chipped up to about six or seven feet; missed.

10, I hit 5-wood off the tee, 8-iron to probably about 30 feet, made that one.

12, I hit driver, 5-wood in the green-side bunker. Hit it to about 12 feet; made it.

16 was driver, 4-iron to about 15 feet. Made it for eagle.

Q. How long has he been lining you up??

JASON DUFNER: To be honest with you, Kevin has been lining up since Palm Springs. I missed that par putt on 9 and I told him, no more lining up until further notice, and actually putted better on the back. Maybe that's part of the trust; I've got to trust myself.

Sometimes you feel like you're aimed one way and he tells you to inch it a little bit to the left, which is a recurring them with me. Then you get a little wish?washy and uncomfortable. I was kind of like, I've had enough; I'm going to trust the practice I've been putting in working on my aim and just go with it. Actually I think I had maybe five one?putts on the back nine.

Q. Any thoughts on that, still a couple of players that rely on --

JASON DUFNER: Whatever works. Everybody's different. It's worked sometimes out here for me with him helping me aiming. But you know, I just change it up a little bit; if it's not working that great, and just like I said, maybe it gives me a little bit more self?belief and a little bit less to think about.

You know, a lot of times when he says you're good, then I hit a good putt. But if he tells me to fidget it one way or another, it throws you out of your rhythm and I just went back to trusting my practice and go with it.

Q. Ever figure out if he lied to you??

JASON DUFNER: I'm sure he has done that in the past, too. (Laughter) It's hard, it's so -- I don't know how to word it.

But caddie advice is a difficult thing I think. Doesn't know what shot I'm trying to hit or how far things are playing; if you ride the wind, it's going to play one distance; if you can work it in, it's going to be another. And with putting, if you hit different speeds, you're going to have different lines.

You know, that's kind of an iffy thing there, and I use it in the beginning just to get a baseline for it. Back nine, I was just tired of missing. I missed some short ones on the front nine and just decided I was going to trust myself a little bit more.

Q. Slightly different topic. In the length of time that you've been playing golf, what do you think has been the biggest change in equipment that you've senior experienced??

JASON DUFNER: Probably I'm going to have to go with the drivers. The technology with drivers now has really increased distance for a lot of players. Short hitters that used to be short are a lot longer now. Guys, I think you've seen the change in the game, you've got better athletes playing golf now than ever before. Those guys are able to hit it really far with the new equipment.

I think just the distance that the ball goes off the driver has been a big change. It's changed the way guys can play the game, attack the golf course, make long courses look short.

I don't think distance for us is a big factor out here anymore. You know, you want higher scores, you get longer rough, further greens; doesn't matter if it's 8,000 yards. I think because of that, the driver and the golf ball combination have really changed how the game's been played.

DOUG MILNE: Jason, great playing today. Keep it up and best of luck.

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