If anyone caught this past weekend’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans then you learned a little more about a man named Dufner. Jason Dufner, if you remember, had a 5 shot lead on the back-nine at last year’s PGA Championship before losing the event in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. After a 2012 season with near misses, Dufner finally broke through for his 1st PGA Tour Victory.
It did not come without some heartache and turmoil late in the round on Sunday. Dufner, tied with Ernie Els, pulled his tee shot on the short par 4 16h hole into the hazard. Now, most amateurs in this position might lose it. The doubt might start creeping in and the negative thoughts of blowing the tournament would be knocking at the door. This is where you can learn from Dufner. This is where I believe he won the event.
Jason Dufner is a fairly laid back and calm individual already but anyone in that situation would have to start feeling the pressure, especially when they have been so close to winning in the past without closing the deal. Dufner didn’t seem to be bothered at all because he strategized the rest of the hole and came up with a plan.
Dufner took several minutes to decide on where he wanted to drop the golf ball, as he had several choices within the rules of golf. He chose to pick a spot several yards back from the spot where the ball last crossed the hazard and in a closely mown area to get the maximum spin with his wedge.
If anyone noticed the pin location, it was positioned just over the water in a very tough position on the green. Knowing that another water ball would definitely end his chances, Dufner played conservative to the right hand side to assure no more than a bogey. An extremely smart play considering the situation and what was at stake. It could have overtaken his emotions very easily.
Dufner exceeded his expectations and drained the 45-foot putt to save the par. A par he desperately needed with only 2 holes remaining and a tough competitor in Els up ahead.
So what is the moral of the story? What can we learn from his decisions? Surely, he didn’t win the event because of that decision as he had to defeat Els in a playoff. However, staying calm and even keeled over the course of that 16th hole showed an amount of focus and patience that true champions possess. Knowing that it is not over until it’s over is an extremely hard thing for some of you to comprehend in that situation.
Whether you make double bogey on the first hole with your buddies on a Saturday morning or are in the thick of it come the final round of your club championship it is important to remember that all players face adversity during each round of golf and sometimes there are many obstacles in your way to contend. Take a page out of Dufner’s book and be patient after an errant shot knowing that there are many ways to get the ball in the hole. We are too quick to judge the outcome and think it will be negative. Why can’t you make a smart decision and have a positive result. The answer is you can and you will more often by keeping a clear mind, a positive attitude, and being patient throughout each and every round.