The calendar says the week officially ends on Sunday. Pardon Jason Dufner if he chooses to call yesterday only the beginning. This Saturday, the former Auburn golf star will marry his longtime girlfriend, Amanda in Auburn.
Yesterday in New Orleans, Dufner edged out golf legend Ernie Els on the second hole of a playoff at the Zurich Classic to claim his first PGA tour title.
Now that’s how you start a week to remember.
Until yesterday, Dufner’s career was fit more for a bridesmaid than a groom. He’s stood at the altar of golf’s biggest events, only to see someone else go home with the prize.
There was the Master’s earlier this month where he led going into the weekend, only to fade down the stretch. Then there was last year’s PGA Championship where he gave away four strokes on the final five holes, bringing back memories of Greg Norman at Augusta.
That’s all in the past for now. After 164 tour starts, Dufner now has his trophy and $1.2 million in prize money. It’s safe to assume that Amanda can quit her day job.
While Phil Mickelson and others have been destined for glory from the start, Dufner’s road has been quite different. He didn’t pick up the clubs until he was 14 when his family relocated from Washington D.C. to Ft. Lauderdale.
As many Auburn football stars have done, Dufner headed to the Plains after three years at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Unlike the others, Dufner did it the old fashion way, he walked-on.
When his collegiate playing career was over, Dufner would finish with three tournament wins and an honorable mention All-American selection in 1997. He earned his degree in economics in 2000.
Few would argue with his college success, but nothing pointed to a career on the tour. He earned his PGA tour card first in 2004. From there it was a series of close calls that kept him away from the big dance and on the Nationwide tour for the next five years.
In 2009, he returned to the PGA Tour and this time made the most of it. That season he posted six top 10 finishes including a third place showing at the Canadian Open and a runner-up finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
With yesterday’s win, more will be expected of the 35 year-old Auburn man.
“I am really, really excited and to get the monkey off my back is a great feeling,” said Dufner.
While Saturday will be another day of celebration, don’t look for the happy couple to take time off soaking up the sun in the Caribbean. It’s back to work for the world’s ninth-ranked golfer.
He’ll be playing the next three weekends in a row, including The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Who says the SEC only plays football?