The Memorial: Jason Dufner Redefines "Moving Day"

Posted by: mike June 7th, 2017

By Bob Oliver

@arbyoliver

 

There is a special significance to Saturday play in a typical PGA Tour event. 

“It’s moving day,” said one of golf’s elder statesmen at the recent media day of the Tour’s Greenbrier Classic, Lee Trevino. “Saturday starts the final 36 holes. It’s after the cut. And it’s the time to post a strong round and make a statement that you are in the event to win it.”

Hum, if that’s the case, Jason Dufner addressed “moving day” in a whole new way. Dufner had opened the 2017 Memorial Tournament in fine style, posting a first round 65 and matching that score with an identical 65 in round two to grab the 36-hole lead. His game was seemingly on auto-pilot, and all was going his way.Jason Dufner

Then, overnight, he developed a case of stone hands and went the absolute wrong way on the leaderboard on moving day, as he posted a five-over-par 77 while Daniel Summerhays vaulted to the top of the standings with a 65 and Matt Kuchar was right behind with a strong 67. Bubba Watson moved into third place after a 68, tying Justin Thomas (69) and Dufner at 207 four strokes behind the leader.

It was not a night for fitful sleep for the halfway point leader, Dufner.

“You second guess yourself in situations like that,” admitted Phil Mickelson. “It’s like, whoa, what happened today? What went wrong? And, of course, trying to put things behind you so you can concentrate on the final round. It’s a difficult task.”

True, Dufner was only four shots back with 18 holes to play, but the big question was whether he could right the ship and get back going full speed ahead after a disastrous round.

He did. Fashioning a final round 68 to make good on his hopes after the third-round disaster.

Saturday saw a shocked Dufner almost shyly admit that he was “still in the tournament.” Heck, he was only a few shots behind the new leader, and there were only a couple players ahead of him in the standings. In a “normal” situation, he would have gone into the final round with the knowledge that a strong finish could ignite contention.

Still, coming off a 77, confidence was light in Dufner’s golf bag.

He practiced after his Saturday round, had dinner with friends, and left Muirfield Village believing he was still in the thick of things. He told himself, Sunday is “another day.”

Sunday he strung together a solid round, hindered in part by a couple rain delays, and ultimately emerged victorious after a final round 68 and 13-under-par 275 final tally for the week. He finished two shots in front of good friend Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahiri.  

In doing so he joined Kenny Knox and Nick Faldo as PGA Tour winners who overcame third round disasters to ultimately capture the championship. Knox had skied to a third round 80 but rebounded to win the 1986 Honda Classic, while Faldo overcame a third round 77 to win the 1989 Masters.

“I’ve always been a fighter,” admitted Dufner to the media after hoisting the championship trophy presented by host Jack Nicklaus. “I’ve had struggles and setbacks.”

He learned to deal with adversity in those situations, and in the fourth round of the Memorial he built on those stumbles to capture the event with a great finish.

And give new meaning to “moving day.”

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Bob Oliver is a frequent contributor to the Golf Insider’s blog, a veteran Golf Writers of America member and former president of the International Network of Golf. Bob is Chief Columnist at www.golfbuckscounty.com