2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: JASON DUFNER


2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: JASON DUFNER

KELLY ELBIN: Today, ladies and gentlemen, Jason Dufner became the 24th individual to shoot 63, the low score in a major golf championship with his 7 under par round here at Oak Hill. He's also the 12th player in PGA Championship history to shoot 63, and Jason has set a new competitive course record at Oak Hill's East Course previous Mark of 64 held by Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange, and equalled earlier today by Webb Simpson.

Congratulations on a terrific round and being a part of history today.

JASON DUFNER: Thanks. It was a great day for me, a good day to get out there and score. Obviously the rain, the soft golf course made it scorable. But to join history, to shoot a 63 in a major, pretty unbelievable, and to be leading the tournament, even better. So hopefully it will propel me to a great weekend.

KELLY ELBIN: Did you know the course record, the potential to break the all time record with 62 with the putt on 18.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I had heard it. I most the history of major championships, so I knew that nobody had shot 62, and the course record I had heard on TV earlier in the week.

So I knew where I stood and you couldn't have a better putt for a chance at history on the last hole but I just didn't quite hit it hard enough.

KELLY ELBIN: If you would go through your highlights today ... they are all highlights, but start out with the hole out on No. 2.

JASON DUFNER: On 2, I was in the fairway and I had about 105 yards. Hit a sand wedge. I knew that I could bring it back to that hole location, and luckily it went in, a great shot with a little bit of luck.

On No. 4, I drove it in the rough. Laid up. I hit a pretty indifferent pitching wedge to about 35 feet and made that.

5, I hit driver and 9 iron to about 12 feet and made that.

11, hit 3 iron probably to about eight feet, made that.

13 was a 5 wood, 5 iron, 9 iron to about ten feet, made that.

Then 16 was a driver in the fairway, a pitching wedge from 141 to about six feet and made that.

KELLY ELBIN: Thank you. One final thing, with a total of 131 Jason ties the low 36 hole score in PGA Championship history.

Q. Any extra motivation for you coming into Majors after what happened to you a couple years ago?

JASON DUFNER: No, there's always motivation coming into Majors. If you can't get up and get excited to win one of these, then you probably shouldn't be playing golf. So I think what's happened in the past with me in Majors is in the past, still trying to chase it, still trying to learn from the mistakes that I made in prior Majors, and I'm excited that I'm in the lead and looking forward to a good weekend and maybe closing one of these out.

Q. When the course is like this, obviously this isn't the way they want it to play. You as players, do you sense the difference, or is it still ... it's still a major obviously, but do you sense that you're going to play it differently; it's going to play differently and it's not going to be quote, unquote, major conditions?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, for me, I felt like I could be more aggressive off the tee today. I hit driver just about on every hole with the exception of 12 and 13.

You know, earlier in the week, I was hitting different clubs off some of these holes. When it's soft like this, I feel like it expands the fairway a little bit. You're not getting the chase out into the rough. I've been driving it pretty good, which is going to give you obviously shorter clubs into these holes and you can be more in attack mode, so to speak, during this championship, and then if you do miss it in the rough like I did sometimes, you have shorter clubs in, because you've taken that chance.

So I think that's one of the adjustments I made. Then obviously with the moisture on the greens, you can be very, very aggressive from the fairways.

Q. I understand you played in the Monroe Invitational here three years and stayed with the Kircher family; do you know Lee Trevino stayed with them in 1968 when he won The Open? A little Rochester karma maybe working for you?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, the Kircher's, Kim is from Auburn and her husband, John, played golf at Auburn. They always hosted us, a couple of guys from the team for the Monroe in the summer. You always heard the stories about how when Lee came here in '68 and stayed with John's dad and won the event here.

I've gotten to know Lee a little bit just in passing, and maybe it is a little bit of karma. We were always excited to come up here and play golf at the Monroe Invitational. We had some great Auburn people that would host us and we always had a good time playing that event and sneaking over here a little bit.

So I've got a little bit of history here in the Rochester area with golf.

Q. How excited do you get inside, because you don't look excited at all on the outside.

JASON DUFNER: I'm probably like everybody else but I can hide it a little bit better. Today was a little bit unusual because just of the buzz that was going on with the round that I was producing. Usually get that buzz towards the end of the championship. A little tough on Friday, you like it more of a casual, I made the cut, I'm in good position type of rounds, but when you're chasing history, it's tough.

But in my head, I was just trying to get further and further away from the field, trying to make birdies.

Q. Obviously you have a lot more experience since two years ago at Atlanta to be in this circumstance; how is your game different, and specifically, better, than it was in Atlanta?

JASON DUFNER: Right now, Atlanta is probably the best I've ever hit it in my career for that specific week. I played really flawless there for 68 holes or 69 holes. That's probably the best I've hit it in my career.

Today, I scored better, so that's the name of the game. I think I've got more experience now playing in these major championships, winning a couple of events, being close to winning some more events since Atlanta. So that will always help. And then hopefully I can get the weekend to strike it and hit it like I did in Atlanta and be a good mix with the experience.

Q. For a quiet guy, you're becoming kind of a cult hero, we all know about the Dufnering; what did you think about the kids, following you around, chanting 63 while you were doing your interviews ... it seems to be pretty cool.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, the last couple of years, I've got a lot of support. People have kind of latched on with my personality and how I play golf and how I carry myself. It seems like every time we go to, I'm experiencing newer things with these types of fans. It's great, to have a lot of support, people recognizing what you're doing out there and identifying with you in whatever way they seem fit is a great fit I think, and for me it's neat, for people to want to come to the golf course and watch me play golf.

Q. Could you talk a little about how nervous you were standing on the 18th hole knowing you had a chance to do something nobody had ever done in a major, and what your immediate reaction was when you saw the ball came up short?

JASON DUFNER: I felt good on the tee shot. The tee shot I struggled with a little bit this week, but hit a great tee shot. A little bit in between clubs, in between a 5 and a 6, 203 yards, so I went with a 6 and left it in a perfect spot.

The greens had gotten a little bit slower, obviously a little bit bumpier and I probably didn't hit the best putt ... probably the worst putt I hit of the day, which is a little disappointing. But all in all, it's a 63, and name on top of the leaderboard, so that's a great position to be playing from.

If I could do it over, I guess I would hit the putt harder.

Q. What for you has been the most emotionally gratifying moment of your career, and how does this compare to that?

JASON DUFNER: You know, probably making The Ryder Cup Team or winning last year, probably equal. But this is right up there with it. You know, great rounds happen. It's great to be part of history, but it would be even greater to close this championship off. So I think winning and being part of The Ryder Cup last year are probably the two biggest achievements so far to date, but this is kind of right there behind them.

Q. Do you think there's some kind of magical/mental barrier in the Majors between 63 and 62?

JASON DUFNER: Maybe. I don't know. This is my first chance at it and I couldn't get it done.

Majors are set up so difficult. It's just hard to shoot a 62. Even on some of the setups that we have out on Tour, you don't see many guys shooting 62 or lower. I think we had a couple this year. There are just not that many out there. And then to do it in a major with how tough the golf courses are set up; being in a major championship, how much pressure there is playing in those, it's just a really difficult thing to do.

Certain conditions have to be right, for the moisture and the rain to make this golf course soft and playable, really kind of fit into those cards, and then you have to play great on top of it. It's just a tough thing to shoot a 62 in a major, and I'm sure there's a little bit of a mental hurdle for some guys to break that barrier.

Q. Could you talk about the putt on 17? You said wow to yourself when it didn't go in and Stricker said for sure he thought it was in?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I hit a great putt there. I was actually in a divot in the fairway and hit a 3 rescue hybrid out of there, hit a perfect shot right underneath the hole. We get green books that have kind of slope indicators on them, and every arrow from where I was putting to the hole was pointing to the right. I hit it, and it was on the left side of the hole the whole time, and about three feet, you're thinking that it's going to start breaking to the hole, and it just kind of didn't break. Probably bumped a little bit and maybe the break was nullified by a couple of hops to the left. I thought that one was going to go in. I didn't think the one on 18 was going to go in when it came off.

KELLY ELBIN: For the record, the last 63 shot in major championship competition was Steve Stricker, your playing partner today, 2011 PGA Championship, first round.

Q. If the weather continues to dry out over the weekend, how much will you have to change your approach?

JASON DUFNER: You know, you have to see if you can get some fairways that are a little bit firmer, a little bit faster, I'll be changing some clubs off the tees. But hopefully, you know, that won't happen and I can be aggressive with the driver. I feel like driver is the best club in my bag. I think it gives me an advantage against the players, against the field, because I'm confident with it.

I feel like I can hit the fairways and then if it's wet and soft, I can really feel like I can hit the fairways and then have shorter distances to pins, and you can attack more. So we'll just have to play it by ear and see what Mother Nature has in store and how the golf course responds.

Q. What did Steve say to you 

JASON DUFNER: I had 105 to the pin, a little bit downwind, and I took a sand wedge and I knew I could be aggressive, because you kind of have a backstop there, and with a sand wedge, you know you're going to spin it. And it actually probably flew about close to 115 and had almost 30 feet of backspin.

So it was a good number, a good fit, hit a good shot and got a little lucky.

Can't see it at all. I had already given the club back to my caddie. That's how long it took to come back. When I turned back to the hole, they went nuts, it was a pretty neat experience.

Q. If the greens tend to dry out Saturday and Sunday, do you feel that will be a benefit for your putting?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, I think one of the keys to being a great player out here is adjusting to the conditions. I think you hear that from guys all the time. It seems like the guys that are able to close these Majors off can adjust to the conditions.

So if the greens speed up, that's fine by me. I'll have to adjust just like everybody in the field. That's a great thing. It's pretty much equal for everybody. And maybe they will smooth out a little bit and get a little bit firmer a little bit faster. I'm okay with that, because that's how we were playing it in the practice round, especially Wednesday. It got really firm and fast out there.

Q. Do you prefer to be in the lead going into the weekend, or do you rather chase the lead?

JASON DUFNER: You know, I think being in the lead is a good thing. There's a lot of pressure and expectations from being in the lead. I've been in it a couple times. I think both times ... actually, a mixed bag. The two events I won last year, I came from behind and won, and was in the lead of another going into Sunday.

So we've got tomorrow, it will be another tough day, a good test. It seems like a lot of guys are posting some good scores, so if conditions stay the same, I'm sure guys will be gunning for whoever might be leading. So I think it's important to stay aggressive, and you know you kind of pick your spots maybe later in the tournament towards those last nine holes.

KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Jason shared the lead after the second round and the third round in the 2011 PGA Championship.

Q. We know that you've been a big disciple and a great fan of Ben Hogan's, and today you knocked over one of his great records, which is the course record here. How does that make you feel, and is that one of the things that as you look back, you'll really treasure in your career?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I think so. Obviously I've been a great follower of Mr. Hogan and everything that he's done. We played at Merion this year for the first time; I was so excited to be there. Dating back to when he won the U.S. Open there and all the history and the plaque there; and then to come to a great course like Oak Hill where he holds the course record and has played numerous rounds here, had great relationships with the Harmons; and to knock his course record off is kind of a tip of my cap to him, and it will be definitely something that I can always look back when I'm finished playing that I accomplished.

KELLY ELBIN: Jason Dufner, making history and leading the PGA Championship. Thank you.

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