By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
The timing of The Barclays lands at the confluence of strategies employed in this format. For frontrunners, it's merely the next step on the path to success. Treat this week as you would any invitational with a 36-hole cut. For those in pursuit, you assume what's sure to be a popular position of leaving nothing on the table. While the gamers ahead of you can take the same approach, they're more likely to stick with what got them where they are. Of course, if you use FedExCup points instead of earnings, then all bets are off since points are quintupled.
My run through the Playoffs is pretty much mapped out. Of the top 13 in my Power Rankings, only Adam Scott (fourth) and Jason Dufner (sixth) are still on my board. Since I've reserved the Aussie for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship [DBC], I'll go ahead and burn Dufner at Liberty National. Even if I had something against a guy coming off his first victory in a major, he's still the most valuable possibility available. I've also bought into his assessment that the victory at Oak Hill will change his life, but it won't change him. If any touring pro was going to say that, he's at the top of the short list of guys in whom you believe it's true.
Because it's always wise to plan ahead when possible, I'm saving Luke Donald for the BMW Championship at Conway Farms where he's a member. The top 70 in the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the DBC will advance to the BMW. The Englishman starts The Barclays ranked 55th, so he'll need to survive at least one of the first two cuts to have a fighting chance to qualify.
Last week: Hideki Matsuyama; 15th; $95,400.00
Overall Record: 33-for-36
Top 5s: 7
Top 10s: 16
Top 25s: 25
Missed Cuts: 3
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Winning a major can be a life-changing experience.
But in the early morning hours after capturing the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner was already back home in Auburn, Ala., where he and about 25 of his closest friends and associates celebrated at a local restaurant into the early morning hours.
The group was hungry and the kitchen was closed, so one of Dufner's friends hopped in the car, went to a nearby Taco Bell and filled up the Wanamaker Trophy with food.
"I still took the trash out on Tuesday morning," Dufner added. "And we actually got a new puppy; so I was up at 3 in the morning every night taking him out to the bathroom and still going to my favorite breakfast spot in town."
In other words, not much has changed for Dufner, including his own expectations as he enters the FedExCup Playoffs this week at The Barclays. His next goal: Advance to next month's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the third straight year.
"I don't put too much pressure on myself," Dufner said. "Just try to do the same thing as I've been doing the last couple years."
Given his progression since he started working with Chuck Cook in 2008, that's not a bad idea. Over the last two years, Dufner has 14 top 10s, including three wins.
The Playoffs have been somewhat of a different story, however, with Dufner owning just one top 10 in that period and only two for his career.
"I know that winning a major can make your year, but I'm focused on trying to get back to Atlanta," said Dufner, who added he finally got his first full night of sleep on Tuesday night and spent Thursday through Saturday of last week back on the golf course for the first time since winning at Oak Hill. "I think winning (a major) ‑‑ it's made me a little hungrier to be competitive and win more events, more majors, be part of the Ryder Cup Team, part of the Presidents Cup team.
"I'm pretty good at thinking ahead and moving forward. I had a little bit of relaxation there for a week, but my mind is getting ready to try and compete this week."
Gary Woodland and Jason Dufner, two of the most recent winners on the PGA TOUR, played a practice round on Tuesday at Liberty National, which was captured nicely by the Twitter feed of Claude Harmon III.
Woodland was a PGA TOUR rookie the last time the PGA TOUR visited Liberty National, but his season ended due to a shoulder injury a month before the FedExCup Playoffs. Dufner qualified for FedExCup Playoffs but missed the cut at Liberty National that year.
Jason Dufner's controlled demeanor is a big reason why he is successful. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Jason Dufner bounced back from his PGA Championship playoff loss to Keegan Bradley at the Atlanta Athletic Club a few years ago. And he did so with a masterclass in controlled golf, poise and emotional control en route to a very popular victory in the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
From his run at the history books on Friday (which ended in a tie for the Oak Hill course record) to his playing with the lead on Saturday to his impressive front nine on Sunday, Dufner was impressive at every turn.
As a result there are many lessons we can learn from Dufner and I want to highlight a few of them I believe will have an immediate and positive effect on your game should you employ them:
Swing in balance: Dufner's swing is enviable and there are many aspects to it that are worth emulating. For me, though, everyone should copy Dufner's swing cadence and balance. Every pass he makes, whether with a driver or a wedge, is unhurried, unforced and very balanced. In fact he appears to swing the driver with the same force as he does the wedge. Do yourself a favor and adopt this approach -- commit to swinging at a speed that keeps everything well synchronized and balanced. Then, make sure that every -- and I mean every -- follow-through is balanced no matter the result. I know this sounds cliched, but trust me it works ... to the tune of a major championship.
Don't sweat the small stuff (and it's all small stuff): Dufner is a bit of an enigma to many golf fans. He never appears to react to anything (or it at least appears as much). To me his approach to the game and his reaction to everything on the golf course is highly recommendable. Nothing ever varies, from the speed of his gait to his facial expressions. This is a guaranteed way to remain emotionally even-keeled. Violent emotional swings, either positive or negative, can have a detrimental effect on your game. For the record, I have no issue with showing some emotion, but do strive to keep things as even and balanced as possible to help you keep your swing smooth and poised.
Pre-shot preparation: The name Jason Dufner has become synonymous with the waggle. Indeed, apart from his dead-pan facial expressions it is probably his most recognizable trait. The waggle was made famous by Ben Hogan and many players have used it to properly prepare themselves for the swing and upcoming shot. A good waggle also helps to keep the body in motion and maintain a certain amount of relaxation and "oiliness" in the forearms and wrists -- an area that in my opinion is the most important in the entire golf swing. Hogan refered to the hands and wrists as "the heartbeat of the swing." So do like Duf and get that heart beating before each shot.
Hit putts with dead weight: Dufner is often criticized for his putting and indeed he has not been sharp this season. That being said, I like the way that he controls the speed of his putts, either long or short. Every putt that Dufner hits finishes right around the hole and to me that is a guaranteed way to not only eliminate three-putts but also make more putts. If you are struggling on the greens adopt Dufner's approach and work to hit your putts with dead weight. By that I mean imagine that if the ball falls into the hole it would do so at the last revolution. If the ball is moving at that speed the hole always plays a little larger and more importantly you will leave yourself shorter second putts.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
Jason Dufner made an appearance on the Howard Stern Show on Tuesday. (Photo: PGA of America)
Dufnering took over at CBS This Morning with Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose (Photo: CBS)
The Wanamaker Trophy on the set of LIVE with Kelly and Michael. Dufner's wife, Amanda (first on left), and actress/guest co-host Rebecca Romijn (second from right) pose for a picture. (Photo: PGA of America)
Keegan Bradley having a little fun with his good friend on Twitter.
Dufner and his wife, Amanda, brave the rain in front of the NASDAQ Tower, where his name danced across the ticker. (Photo Courtesy of NASDAQ OMX)
It was windy atop the Empire State Building, and Dufner had a firm grip on the Wanamaker Trophy. (Courtesy: Empire State Building)
Jason Dufner has his chest facing the target after impact. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
Two years ago in Atlanta at the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner let a four-shot lead slip away over the final four holes, eventually falling to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. On Sunday, Dufner’s lead with four holes to play at the PGA was a more precarious two shots, yet there was very little doubt as to whether or not he’d hang on this time around.
Dufner, who tied a major-championship scoring record with his 63 on Friday at Oak Hill Country Club, was splitting fairways and firing bullets at the flag like his idol, Ben Hogan. Three times on Sunday, he spun wedges back to about a foot for tap-in birdies, and until he three-putted the 17th green, the emotionless 36-year-old had gone 26 consecutive holes without a bogey or worse. He had just 11 putts over his first nine holes, an indication of just how well he was hitting his approach shots.
In the end, his 10-under-par 270 total obliterated the previous major championship scoring mark at Oak Hill of 6 under, set by Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 PGA Championship.
What makes Dufner such a good wedge player is that he’s able to hit down on the ball with a fairly neutral swing path. His divots are so deep at times you could sprain an ankle stepping in one of them, but he keeps his left arm close to his chest and his torso rotating to the left, which zeroes out his path and allows him to hit the ball straight with so much spin.
What’s interesting is that for every degree you hit down on the ball with a wedge, it affects your swing direction just under a degree to the right. I would guess that Dufner hits down on the ball a negative five or six degrees with a wedge. Without moving his swing direction to the left, he’d hit big pushes to the right or he’d have to draw his ball back to the target by closing the clubface. Dufner is probably one of the best players on the PGA TOUR at rotating his torso to the left and keeping his left arm close to his chest, resulting in a swing direction to the left and ... a neutral path.
Another thing that’s very unique to Dufner’s wedge swing is his takeaway. His left wrist remains cupped (bent back toward his forearm), which allows him to move the handle back with the clubhead (very Hogan-esque) and keep the head out in front of his hands. This is completely opposite of what he does on his pre-swing waggle, where he practically bows the left wrist and sucks the clubhead immediately behind his hands. This is the most common thing I see with amateurs on the backswing: their hands go out (toward the target line) and the clubhead travels in, which all but guarantees you’ll swing down into the ball from over the top.
Dufner’s takeaway -- not his waggle -- is something every amateur golfer would do well to emulate. When you cup the left wrist, it pushes your left arm against your chest, which not only makes it easier to turn your shoulders on the backswing, but also promotes a more inside downswing path. Perhaps more importantly, it can help you rotate your torso to the left through impact.
To put more bite on your wedge shots, remember to:
1. Keep the clubhead in line with the handle or slightly outside your hands on the takeaway.
2. Have a forward leaning shaft at impact, which slightly delofts the clubface so you’re not producing too much initial trajectory.
3. Hit down on the ball with speed, which creates the spin.
4. Rotate your torso to the left through impact, so the path of the clubhead is more neutral as opposed to out to the right.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com.
The decision to become more confident helped Jason Dufner win a major title. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
When Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, was asked what contributed to his great play during the final round, he poignantly responded, "I decided I was going to be confident and put my best foot forward and play aggressive and try to win this thing." Dufner also added that he was not going to play scared. Clearly, his attitude produced magnificent play on Sunday as Dufner fired at all pins and swung away with his driver like it was a simple muni course rather than the supremely difficult Oak Hills Country Club.
Dufner gets it. Confidence is a choice. This is one of the most powerful mental game ingredients I can share with you. No matter how many bad shots you just hit or how many easy putts you just missed, you can still choose to be confident. Regardless of outcome, you can always be confident, but that mental skill is supremely difficult.
Another story that illustrates the importance of this mental skill relates to the great Tom Watson. Most golf fans will remember his remarkable chip-in on the 17th hole at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he went on to victory. However, on the seventh hole, he missed a putt from 2 feet. Watson didn’t lose confidence in his putting, he merely told himself that even great putters miss an occasional easy one.
It is so easy for your confidence to be fickle. Good shots on the golf course create a sweet air of invincibility while a couple of bad ones can make us sour instantly on our ability.
Winners like Dufner and Watson choose to be confident regardless of the situation or past disasters. Here are a few suggestions for you to remain confident in every situation:
1. Have a planned statement. A good statement that I use during tournaments is: “I choose to be confident.” This always helps me when my game goes south. Figure out a planned statement that will spur your confidence when times turn sour.
2. Have a golden image handy. A golden image is a shot that you just nailed. Perhaps it was that 5-iron you hit to 2 inches last week. Pull out this image every time you are losing some confidence in your game.
In his book "Man's Search for Meaning," the famous philosopher and self-help guru Victor Frankl wrote: “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” You always have the choice of possessing a good or bad attitude and the freedom to change your attitude in an instant. If you make the correct choice to remain confident regardless, then your chances greatly increase of playing your best golf more often and of becoming the player you always wanted to be.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
Jason Dufner is the 19th different winner in the past 21 major championships. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Two years after he frittered away a three-stroke lead over the final four holes and ended up losing a playoff at the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner put his name on the Wanamaker Trophy with a solid 68 in the final round.
"It hasn't hit me yet," Dufner said. "I still can't believe this is happening to me. To come back from a couple of years ago in this championship when I lost to Keegan (Bradley) in a playoff and win feels really, really good."
Dufner, who matched the major championship record of 63 on Friday, finished four rounds at Oak Hill at 10 under, two strokes ahead of Jim Furyk, with whom he played the final 18 holes. Furyk, who was bidding to win his second major, closed with a round of 71.
Henrik Stenson, who finished second at The Open Championship and third at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, was alone in third at 7 under after shooting 70. Jonas Blitz, a fellow Swede playing in just his second major, also shot even par and finished solo fourth.
Dufner had held a share of the lead after the second and third rounds two years ago at the Atlanta Athletic Club before an opportunistic Keegan Bradley forced -- and won the three-hole aggregate playoff. On Sunday, he trailed by Furyk by one stroke entering the final 18 holes but took the lead with consecutive birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 and never relinquished it.
"I decided I was going to be confident and put my best foot forward and play aggressive and try to win this thing," Dufner said. "I wasn't going to play scared or soft. It's a big step for my career."
Dufner, who celebrated with an understated double fist pump before hugging first his wife Amanda and later Bradley, is the 19th different major champion in the last 21 majors. The breakthrough victory was the third of his career.
Jason Dufner captured the PGA Championship on Sunday to win his first major.
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