Dufner's record round surpasses his hero, Hogan
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – On a special afternoon at the 95th PGA Championship Friday, Jason Dufner tied one record and broke another.
In conditions that were absolutely perfect for scoring after heavy rains softened Oak Hill Country Club’s greens and allowed players to take dead aim, Dufner threw dart after dart en route to a major championship record-tying low round of 7-under 63.
Through 36 holes, Dufner holds a two-shot advantage over the trio of Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk at 9-under 131.
On the 18th hole, Dufner left short a 12-foot birdie try for what could have been a 62. Instead, he very shakily knocked in the par putt for the 63, a new course record at Oak Hill.
“I obviously had a fantastic day today in a major championship, chased a little bit of history,” Dufner said. “Came up a little short on that last putt, but all in all I'm excited. The position I'm in, the golf course has obviously yielded some low scores and I'm looking forward to continuing good play here on the weekend.”
Dufner’s bogey-free round got off to a smashing start. With 105 yards left into the second hole, Dufner sent a sand wedge high in the air, over the top of the pin and into a backstop on the green. From there, the ball bit into the grass and zipped back about 30 feet before finding the bottom of the hole for an unlikely eagle.
“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,” said Dufner, who also set a new 36-hole PGA Championship scoring record at 131. “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. You 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.”
Dufner’s assault on Oak Hill continued with birdies on the par-5 fourth hole – where he holed a 35-footer – and the par-4 fifth hole. He made the turn at 4 under with his outward 31.
The birdies kept coming on the back nine, too. Dufner birdied the 11th, 13th and 16th holes all on putts inside of 12 feet.
A birdie putt at No. 17 just missed the hole – both Dufner and playing partner Steve Stricker reacted as though they thought it was in – and then, of course, that last chance for an unprecedented 62 that was short at No. 18.
Dufner wasn’t disappointed though. He was delighted – as delighted as Dufner will let on – to become the 26th player in major championship history to shoot 63.
Making the moment all the more special was the fact that Dufner edged out Curtis Strange, Webb Simpson and his idol, Ben Hogan, for the new Oak Hill course record.
“I've been a great follower of Mr. Hogan and everything that he's done,” Dufner said. “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 on when I'm finished playing that I accomplished.”