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Dufner Ready to Tee it Up Again


Two weeks after Jason Dufner won the biggest tournament of his career, the PGA Championship, he's all set to return to action. The 36-year-old tees off today in the Barclays. The first leg of the four-event FedEx Cup Playoffs is taking place at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.

The three-time winner on the PGA Tour comes into the Playoffs ranked 15th in the season-long FedEx Cup points standings. He's paired in the first round with Kevin Streelman and Australia's Jason Day.

The victory at Oak Hill has made Dufner want more out of his career. "I think winning one makes you a little bit - it's made me a little hungrier to be competitive and win more events, more majors, be part of the Ryder Cup Team, part of the Presidents Cup team. I'm pretty good at thinking ahead and moving forward.

"Maybe in this case, it's kind of a weakness because I haven't maybe enjoyed what I did a couple weeks ago as much as maybe some other people would, which I'm hoping to do down the road. But I'm so focused on what's next; I had a little bit of relaxation there for a week, but my mind is getting ready to try and compete this week, win Playoffs, do well at the Presidents Cup, and then move forward from there."

Here's what else Dufner had to tell reporters on the eve of the Barclays.

MODERATOR: We'll get started, we welcome Jason coming off a victory at the PGA Championship. I imagine it's been a whirlwind week or so, but just some opening comments about returning to golf now after your victory in Rochester.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, it's nice to get back out on the course yesterday, get out here with the guys and start thinking about competing again. You know, the time I've had since the victory in Rochester has been kind of a whirlwind there for a couple days. But I live in a pretty small town, people are used to me being around, so I didn't have to deal with too much once I got back to Auburn. So it's good. I'm excited. Obviously I've been playing pretty well and excited to be here participating in The Barclays, the first event of the Playoffs.

Q. Are you feeling extra pressure after winning the championship?

JASON DUFNER: Not really. I don't put too much pressure on myself. Just try to do the same thing as I've been doing the last couple years. You know, we've got a great set of events coming up. You can really kind of make a year out of it. I know that winning a major can make your year, but I'm focused on trying to get back to Atlanta; it will be three years in a row for me, four of the last five. I don't put too much pressure on my game or myself in general, so I think I've been pretty happy with how things have been going since the victory.

Q. On the Sunday of the PGA, you and Jim had a gallery that was pretty vocal. Two part question, do you understand people yelling "mashed potato" and "in the hole," like why they are doing it, and just what do you make of that whole phenomena?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, I don't know if I understand what they are doing. I know what they are trying to do. They are trying to be noticed and recognized and maybe do something in front of their buddies, like, oh, you won't do it, that type of stuff. But I'm fine with it. It doesn't really bother me. I'm more focused on my golf to be honest than what guys are doing in the gallery or what's going on.

Q. So you think they are trying to get the attention of other fans or their friends rather than you guys?

JASON DUFNER: Or on TV. I mean, you hear it, and you know, I'm sure they hear it or they text their buddy right after and say, 'Hey, did you hear me scream mashed potatoes on the 15th tee,' or stuff like that. I think that's more of what it is, and now it's kind of running circles. Seems like every event has more people doing it. I'm not too focused on what's going on outside the ropes to be honest with you. In my experience, everybody has been pretty respectful and nobody has done it before we hit or in the motion of hitting. It's always been for the most part after impact. Whatever they want to do, they paid their ticket price to get in, I guess; as long as they are not touching me or tackling me, I'm fine.

Q. What's some of the feedback you've gotten since winning in terms of text messages, things like that, I heard Bo Jackson texted you and some other folks like that?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, it hasn't been too bad actually, because I changed my number about three weeks ago, so very limited people have access to my phone number. You know, it's been good. A lot of support from players, from people that I've gotten to know through the years, other athletes, Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson, people like that. When I came out yesterday, a lot of people that I had not seen were congratulatory and people seemed genuinely happy for me I guess. So it's been good.

Q. Was there anything that stood out that you remember, was cool, was neat, unexpected, funny, any of that stuff?

JASON DUFNER: Not really to be honest. A lot of the people like I said that have my phone number, I'm in pretty constant contact with. So nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected.

Q. I believe you spoke after winning the majors, that being sort of the next part of the progression in your career. Now that you have the major, what's the next part of that progression?

JASON DUFNER: Just trying to be competitive out here. You know, I think winning one makes you a little bit - it's made me a little hungrier to be competitive and win more events, more majors, be part of the Ryder Cup Team, part of the Presidents Cup team. I'm pretty good at thinking ahead and moving forward. Maybe in this case, it's kind of a weakness because I haven't maybe enjoyed what I did a couple weeks ago as much as maybe some other people would, which I'm hoping to do down the road. But I'm so focused on what's next; I had a little bit of relaxation there for a week, but my mind is getting ready to try and compete this week, win Playoffs, do well at the Presidents Cup, and then move forward from there.

Q. From the time you finished the final round until yesterday, how much golf did you play?

JASON DUFNER: I was on the golf course on Thursday, Friday and Sunday of last week, so a pretty good bit. Put in three to five hours each of those days. I had not played a round of golf, but I did some practice there Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Q. You had the nice line after you won, you said, you know the victory is going to change your life but you hope it doesn't change you. What's been the score on both those counts so far just in the ten days or so since you've won?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, I had a lot of opportunities. I went to New York City and did some media after the win on the Tuesday afterwards. There's been some demand for my time with media and you know, we have gotten some opportunities for some tournaments here after the Playoffs and stuff like that. As far as me personally, nothing's changed. I still took the trash out on Tuesday morning and we actually got a new puppy; so I was up at 3:00 in the morning every night taking him out to the bathroom and still going to my favorite breakfast spot in town. So not too much has changed in my life. My wife hasn't treated me any differently and people around me are still treating me the same. So it's pretty easy when you've got good people around you.

Q. There was a lot of reports and people kind of labeled you as kind of emotionless during your PGA Tour win. How do you feel about that, and would you ever consider changing the way that you're out there on the course?

JASON DUFNER: No, I think what I do out there is true to me, and I think that's important to kind of stay grounded to who you are. That's just how I've always responded to things. I was excited; I was satisfied and gratified, because I knew how much sacrifice I made and what it took to win the major. But I don't show it out emotionally outward too well, but that's just kind of who I am and how it's been. I don't want to try and change things. It's not like I have to putt my game face on or have to hold back emotions out there on purpose. That's just kind of naturally who I am, so I think it's been working pretty good for me.

Q. How do you feel coming into this tournament, do you feel like you're adding kind of a wave of momentum?

JASON DUFNER: A little bit. I feel like I played pretty good at Firestone the week before the PGA, excellent week in Rochester. A week off, you don't know, sometimes it can go either way. Felt like I got some good work in last week. I was on the course yesterday. I think the tough thing about this event for me is we change venues so much, so you never get used to one venue. With next week in Boston, we've been at TPC for a while now, so I feel very comfortable on that golf course. But the venue change here I think is tough for us. We get used to playing certain golf courses and expect how to play them and know how to play them, so that will be an adjustment this week, but I feel pretty good.

Q. What are your thoughts on this golf course in particular, do you like it?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, they made some changes since we were here last, I think for the better. I love the routing of the golf course. Obviously the venue and the surrounding areas are great. I think the green complexes and the approaches are very, very challenging. I think at times you can hit good shots and end up 40, 50, 60 feet away, or sometimes in a bunker off the green, which can be very frustrating for us at times, but I think the changes are for the better. I haven't played the front nine; I played the back nine, which I saw some of the changes yesterday. I think it's getting better. I know that there was a lot of negative feedback from players in '09, but I think from what I saw yesterday, a lot of things have improved.

Q. Are any of the opportunities you spoke of, would they take you away from Auburn during a home weekend of football, and is that non negotiable?

JASON DUFNER: No, you know, the last couple years, I've been playing a good bit overseas and unfortunately a lot of times that conflicts with football season. I'm going to play three to five events probably after the Playoffs. Hopefully they will be either away games or not playing that week but we'll just have to see how it is. I try to get to as many as I can, four or five games a year, but not much that you can do about that. Our golf season runs pretty much throughout the year, and catch as many as I can on TV.

Q. For a guy who ground out the three PGA Tour wins he currently has, how do you view, when you hear the number, 79 for Tiger Woods, how do guys on Tour view that number, being out here every week, and going through the days where you don't play well, for him to have 79 wins, how do the guys on Tour sort of view that?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, that's pretty much a joke, 79 wins over the time he's been out here. That's pretty much unattainable for me. But it's pretty remarkable, some of the things that he's done since he's been out here, in'97, '96. I think he spoils the media, the fans, with how well he plays, because then people think that other players should play at that level. So you know, 79 wins is pretty remarkable. I've got three. If you look at the career or history of golf, if you have a two percent win percentage in golf, so you win two percent of the time, you're pretty much a Hall of Famer. Pretty much the average guy is about one percent of the events he plays, he wins. I think Tiger is probably around 23, 24 percent; you guys can look that up. So that's pretty much a joke. So he's way above the norm, and we don't worry about him too much, unless you've got to face him on a Sunday.

Q. If he somehow puts this number by the end of his career near 100 -

JASON DUFNER: I think he will be over 100.

Q. Can anyone get to it? Is it almost unattainable?

JASON DUFNER: I'm sure when Sam Snead hit 82, nobody thought that anybody could reach that. Sam played well into his 50s. Somebody will come along at some point in history that will challenge that record. Records are there to be broken, and almost all records at some point during the history of whatever sport you're talking about are broken. But he's probably going to set the bar pretty high. He'll be well into the hundreds, I would assume, by the time he's done.

Q. In winning at Rochester, your game, your ball striking got compared favorably to some of the true greats of the game. Has that sunk in, any of those kind critiques, and is your putting your next challenge to try to wrestle that into a little better form?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, it's always an honor to be recognized with some of the greats in the game. I feel like my ball striking has always been pretty - at a high level compared to my peers. Hard to compare to guys that I haven't played against or from different eras. I'm pretty satisfied with where I'm at with that. Last year, I putted pretty good for me. I think I was in the mid 70s, although I had an unbelievable year. This year I've really struggled. Putting is something that I definitely need to get better at; if I could get better at in the game, I would shoot a lot lower scores, because my ball striking is pretty consistent. Putting has been tough for me this year. Last year was good. Maybe the PGA win will give me a lot of confidence going forward with it and free me up a little bit.

Q. I've heard you mention that two percent number a few times. Is that something you're pretty cognizant of, and do you kind of keep track of where you are?

JASON DUFNER: Not for me. But you can get down out here with how you play and can be some low times out here, and then you start looking at other guys and what they have done in their careers and you start realizing, there's low points for everybody. I call it one percent or two percent of sunshine and the rest of the time it's raining out here. You play 100 events, and maybe you win one, you've lost 99 times. If you were a baseball team and you played a hundred games and you lost 99 times, that would be pretty discouraging. I think it just is something that I use to kind of realize how tough it is to win out here and not beat yourself up for the results and just make sure that you are practicing and preparing and putting effort in.

Q. People look at what you've done the last two years, and it's almost like you're an overnight sensation, 11 years in the making. What is the biggest difference the last two years now and then in 2004 when you had your card and couldn't keep it?

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I think I started working with Chuck Cook in 2008 which is a while ago, five years. I think he really helped me realize my potential and my weaknesses and what I needed to get better at. And starting from 2009 through to the point now, I think I've really focused on what I needed to get better at, and you know, I think just good results. I've had a lot of good results since 2009. You get more comfortable out here. You start to realize you can be competitive out here and play well out here, and it just frees you up.

I think last year, that was really evident. I was struggling to get over that hump to win an event and then I win and things felt good from then on. So this year was a little bit of a struggle just from, you know, my putting aspect, it's really hard to shoot low scores when you have 32, 33 putts. But, you know, I was still confident, especially with the majors, because the scores, you know, don't go too low, I can be competitive. So I think just being out here, having good results, has really made me confident, and then Chuck has really helped me work on the things I need to work on to get better.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Jason. Good luck this week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.