Jason Dufner played 164 tournaments before getting his breakthrough win on golf’s U.S. PGA Tour. It only took two more starts to chalk up his second career title.
Dufner sank a 25-foot (7.6 meter) birdie putt at the final hole yesterday to win the Byron Nelson Championship by one shot from Dicky Pride, who was denied a second victory 18 years after his only tour success.
Dufner won a playoff against Ernie Els at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 29. A week later he married Amanda Boyd before finishing in a tie for 68th place at the Players Championship May 13. His latest success takes him to the top of the FedEx Cup playoff standings and to third on the PGA Tour money list with a career-best $3.11 million this year.
“Two wins in a month and to get married on top of it all,” Dufner, who got $1.17 million for yesterday’s win, said in a televised interview. “You couldn’t really ask for much more, personally or professionally.”
The only other player to win twice on the PGA Tour this year is Hunter Mahan, at the World Golf Championships Match Play event and the Houston Open.
“Everything that happened last year has propelled me into playing well this year,” said Dufner, who had two runner-up finishes in 2011, including a playoff loss to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship. “I feel like I’m in good control of my game, getting better emotionally with dealing with the pressures of trying to win out here.
Dufner, 35, shot a 3-under-par 67 yesterday for a four- round total of 11-under-par 269.
Pride, who got his only tour win at the 1994 St. Jude Classic, also finished with a 67 at the TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas.
Americans J.J. Henry and Joe Durant tied with Australia’s Marc Leishman and Jonas Blixt of Sweden for third place at 9- under. Phil Mickelson finished in a tie for seventh at 6-under, while Bradley, the defending champion, was four shots further back in a tie for 24th.
Henry had a hole-in-one at the 153-yard fifth hole yesterday to move to 9-under, giving him a two-shot lead. It was his third ace on tour and his second this year -- he also had one at the sixth hole in the final round of the Puerto Rico Open on March 12 -- and the first at the Byron Nelson since Ken Duke achieved the feat in the second round in 2010.
Henry had back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes to take a one-shot lead at 11-under. He made a double bogey at the next to drop to 9-under, one shot behind Pride and Dufner.
Pride looked to have forced a playoff by sinking a 22-foot put for par at the 18th to remain at 10-under par. Dufner, playing in the last group, then won it with his own birdie.
The tour now moves about 32 miles (51 kilometers) west to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Country Club from May 24-27.
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