T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Happy 37th birthday, Jason Dufner
Today, March 24, 2014, reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner turns 37 years old.
Happy birthday, Duf!
If age 37 is anything like age 36 for Dufner, it's going to be a fantastic year for him ... and all of us.
For serious golf fans, Dufner was already on the radar screen (he won the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship) before hitting pop culture radar shortly after his 36th birthday, March 28, 2013.
That's the day Dufner went viral with a hilarious photo, slumped over against a wall in a children's classroom, an act that soon became known as "Dufnering." If you have time and want to check out Twitter, "#Dufnering."
There were also an amazing number of "Dufnering" references tagged on tumblr with fellow pros, fans and even pets recreating the pose.
The ribbing from fellow pros was the best, and it was Dufner's good buddy -- the man who beat him in a playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship -- Keegan Bradley who led the charge with these tweets:
— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) March 28, 2013
— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) March 29, 2013
These Dufnering tweets from Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler were spectacular too:
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 29, 2013
— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA) March 29, 2013
As crazy as the Dufnering phenomenon was it didn't define Dufner's year. Instead, it was his Ben Hogan-esque performance at Oak Hill last August en route to claiming his first major, the PGA Championship, which may have been -- in part -- the result of good karma from a special gesture he made to a PGA Professional earlier in the week.
Dufner was clinical in his picking apart of Oak Hill. It was the most boring way to play (and we write that with only envy and affection) -- hitting fairways, hitting greens and not making mistakes -- something prior to that week no one could have imagined at the hallowed Rochester, N.Y., Donald Ross design.
It's often been said that Dufner is a "flatliner" on the course -- which is to say he shows little to no emotion. His demeanor never changes. That's what makes him so intriguing. He admits he gets nervous, but it never shows.
The other lovable thing about Dufner is that he's a guy's guy (remember what he did to wife Amanda on the 18th green after winning the PGA?). He's a must-follow on Twitter (@JasonDufner). On the social media site, he provides hilarious commentary on major sporting events, Auburn University sports, pokes fun at friends (like Bradley) and more.
The guy has become so famous that there's also an unofficial Twitter account named, "Dufner's Ego" (@Dufego1). There's a lot of salty language on the account, but it's a fun follow if you're not easily offended. The person who runs the account tweets out what we all imagine Dufner must be thinking on and off the course.
But let's get back to the events that unfolded after the PGA Championship win.
Along with the beautiful Wanamaker Trophy, Dufner also took home a sapling from the Oak Hill nursery to plant an oak tree from the course on his own property in Alabama. Now that's special.
He also took a whirlwind tour of New York City, making the media rounds following his victory. You can relive that trip with this photo gallery.
And, upon his return home from New York, Dufner and his wife picked up the new addition to the family, Prince Louie Dufner (a French bulldog, who also has his own official Twitter account, @PrinceDufner). Prince Louie posed for this off-the-charts-cute photo:
The 2 newest additions to the Dufner household. I am a lucky man! pic.twitter.com/qXOxnGYWyX
— Jason Dufner (@JasonDufner) August 14, 2013
Lastly, post-PGA, Amanda posted this photo of her hubby to her Instagram, snuggled up to the Wanamker Trophy:
In the last few months, we've seen more antics from Dufner that make us say, "Man, I'd love to have a beer with that guy!"
Like the time he put a huge rock in Bradley's golf bag at the World Challenge in December, or the time he looked "thrilled" to be on a breathtaking Hawaiian hike with Amanda.
As we said, life at age 36 is going to be hard to top for Dufner. But if we've learned anything, life at 37 and beyond should at least be a whole lot of fun for Duf.
Happy birthday, champ.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.