LA QUINTA, Calif. – Jason Dufner outlasted David Lingmerth with a par on the second playoff hole to win the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Dufner's fourth career PGA TOUR title. Dufner and Lingmerth matched 25-under total scores in regulation play, four strokes clear of the field.
For more on what transpired Sunday at PGA West's TPC Stadium Course, click here to read the Daily Wrap-up.
1. ROCKY ROAD. Almost every PGA TOUR champion can point to a bit of good fortune that helped him reach the winner’s circle.
Jason Dufner knows his ball came to rest in an improbable place on the island-green 17th at PGA West’s TPC Stadium Course. The important thing is that he capitalized on his opportunity at the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Dufner saved par after his tee shot came to rest on a small dirt patch, inches from disaster. Dufner made par at the next hole, then defeated David Lingmerth in a playoff for his first PGA TOUR win since the 2013 PGA Championship.
“It was probably like one in 50 million that the ball ends up there,” he said. “But I’ll take it. Some guy won the Powerball a couple weeks ago. He’ll take it, right?”
Dufner is now No. 8 in the FedExCup after his fourth career PGA TOUR victory. He shot 25-under 263 (64-65-64-70), finishing fifth in driving accuracy (42 of 56 fairways hit) and 15th in greens in regulation (54 of 72 greens hit). He'd finished T9 in his two starts before the CareerBuilder, at the Sony Open in Hawaii and The RSM Classic.
The TPC Stadium Course is known for an unforgiving finishing stretch that was designed to induce drama. Pete Dye’s desert creation delivered in the course’s return to the PGA TOUR. This was the first time since 1987 that the TPC Stadium Course was used in the CareerBuilder rotation.
Dufner skirted disaster twice before winning with a two-putt par on the second playoff hole, where Lingmerth’s approach shot found the water.
Dufner holed an 11-foot par putt at the first playoff hole, the Stadium Course’s 18th, to stay alive after Lingmerth had already made a regulation par. Dufner had laid up after his tee shot found a deep bunker. He wasn’t going to tempt fate this time.
“It was probably a shot I pull off maybe two out of 10 times or three out of 10 times,” Dufner said. “The other seven or eight times it probably hits the lip or goes in the water. So I thought … I’m going to play the percentages.”
He did, and it worked. They returned to No. 18 for their second playoff hole. Lingmerth drove into the rough, then hit his approach shot into the water left of the flag.
“The rough is a little heavy in some spots and it grabbed my club,” Lingmerth said. “It turned the ball over and it was really not a bad swing, just a small mistake that was very costly.”
Dufner’s victory came after he teamed with Brandt Snedeker to win the unofficial Franklin Templeton Shootout. He had more missed cuts (seven) than top-10s (six) in the past two seasons, and finished outside the top 80 in the FedExCup both years.
He qualified for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola four times in a five-year stretch between 2009 and 2013. He arrived at the CareerBuilder at No. 120 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“That’s another thing I worked a lot on, trying to be confident again,” Dufner said.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Jason Dufner’s incredible escape from the rocks is the Shot of the Day
2. NARROW MISS. David Lingmerth has had a lot of success in his four trips to the California desert. He’s done everything but win the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Lingmerth has lost a playoff in two of his four starts in this tournament, shooting a 62 both years.
In 2013, Lingmerth shot a final-round 62 to get in a playoff with Brian Gay, who won the tournament, and Charles Howell III. Lingmerth shot 62-65 in the final two rounds of this year’s event to force a playoff; he made 15 birdies and an eagle over the final 36 holes of regulation.
The 18th hole, which he and Dufner played twice in the playoff, is a tough one for Lingmerth. The hole curves left around a pond; Lingmerth likes to work the ball left-to-right.
“Having that water on the left side and pretty much having to start it right on the edge of the water, it’s a little intimidating,” he said. “I erred on the dry side here in the playoff a little too much, and the rough got me there the second time.”
Lingmerth won his first PGA TOUR title at last year’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. This was the third runner-up finish of his TOUR career; he also was runner-up at the 2013 THE PLAYERS Championship.
Lingmerth is No. 13 in the FedExCup.
3. VALIDATION FOR LEFTY. Phil Mickelson made his season debut this week. His T3 finish was his first top-10 at this event since 2006. He spoke enthusiastically about the swing changes he made with new coach Andrew Getson. He began working with the Arizona-based swing coach during the offseason.
Mickelson said he and Getson have worked on getting his swing back on plane. He’d taken the club too far inside over the past few years. That caused him to swing too steeply on the downswing, and required him to use his hands to square the clubface.
“I’m excited,” Mickelson said. “This is a really good week for me and validation that I’m on the right track.”
4. STRUGGLES DOWN THE STRETCH. Jason Dufner’s companions in Sunday’s final group, Adam Hadwin and Jamie Lovemark, were both seeking their first TOUR title.
They both held the lead during the final round, but weren’t able to come away with the win. Lovemark was tied for the lead after a birdie at the par-5 fifth hole. Hadwin was tied for the lead at the turn.
Lovemark hit three balls in the water in the final round en route to a final-round 73 that dropped him into a tie for sixth. Hadwin made birdie on the final hole to also finish sixth. He made three bogeys on the back nine before his birdie at the last hole.
This was Lovemark’s third consecutive top-10. He also finished T9 at The RSM Classic and T7 at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii. Lovemark, who works with instructor Chris Como, is No. 20 in the FedExCup.
CALL OF THE DAY
Jason Dufner saves par from the rocks on No. 17.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
congrats @JasonDufner good to see him playing good again! hard work payed off!!!!— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) January 25, 2016