By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
If Adam Scott wanted to run and hide after last month’s collapse at the Open Championship then Jason Dufner knew exactly how he felt.
Scott famously joined the choker’s role-call headed by Jean Van de Velde who had the 1999 Carnoustie Open Championship at his mercy before bottling it in the same home straight.
Scott was four shots clear with four to play at Royal Lytham last month before he capitualted – a feeling Dufner could identify with.
This this time last year, Dufner was five shots clear of Keegan Bradley on the 15th hole of the Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia with his first win – never mind Major title – staring him in the face.
But Dufner’s three bogeys in the final three holes and Bradley’s two birdies forced a three-hole play-off that Bradley won in his very first Major.
The 35-year-old could have been forgiven if he just walked away and kept his low-profile journeyman career ticking along in the background.
But Dufner manned up and turned his game around. After 11 win-less years, the Cleveland native has broken through big-style this season. He won his first tournament in his 164th attempt at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (beating subsequent Open champion Ernie Els on the second play-off hole) and followed that up with win number two in the Byron Nelson Championship three weeks later.
And his Major form is rock solid too heading into the season’s final test. The World No. 8 lead the Augusta Masters after two rounds but faded to finish tied 24th. A month later he carded his best US Open finish of fourth place behind Webb Simpson.
But for a one-stroke defeat at Colonial by Zach Johnson, Dufner would be on a par with the born-again Tiger Woods as a triple winner on Tour this season.
Woods is 10/1 favourite in Paddy Power’s online betting as his quest for his first Major win in four years continues at Kiawah Island and it’s no coincidence that there were 15 consecutive first-time Major winners during Woods’ fall from grace and subsequent enforced sabbattical.
This is Woods’ last chance this season to win a Major before the focus switches to the Ryder Cup in San Francisco in September Paddy Power are paying 1/4 the odds the first SIX before the first ball is struck off the tee on Thursday.
With the ‘best player never to have won a Major’ seemingly proving too heavy a burden for Major ‘virgins’ World No 1 Luke Donald and Lee Westwood to carry, Dufner can begin another round of first-time Major winners again this weekend.