Jason Dufner is taking the long view for what remains of his 2012 season.
Now that he has qualified for the Ryder Cup, Dufner, who ranks third in the FedEx Cup standings, wants to pace himself for the playoffs.
That’s why Dufner will skip next week’s The Barclays, the first of four season-ending playoff events in the run-up to the Ryder Cup.
“I’ve had a pretty heavy schedule since Firestone (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) or so, and I’m looking forward to the second part of the playoffs,” Dufner told PGATour.com at the Wyndham Championship, where he enters Saturday’s play tied for 22nd after rounds of 68-67–135 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. “I’m just not going to be able to do eight out of nine weeks, with the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup at the end of it.”
Dufner, 35, has won twice this year – at Zurich and the HP Byron Nelson – and has posted five other top-10 finishes, including a T-4 at the U.S. Open. He has been a regular at the Greensboro stop since joining the Tour and felt an obligation to the event.
While Tour officials may cringe at a top-rated player’s demonstrating such a cavalier attitude toward a marquee tournament – who skips “playoff” games in the NFL or Major League Baseball? – you don’t have to look too far for historical evidence that Dufner is not taking himself out of the mix.
In 2010, Jim Furyk was third in the FedEx Cup standings going into the playoffs and also did not play The Barclays, though the circumstances were far different. Furyk overslept, missed his pro-am time and got disqualified. He then went T-37 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, T-15 at the BMW and won the Tour Championship to overtake Matt Kuchar for the overall FedEx Cup prize.
Dufner also is in line to play three tournaments post-Ryder Cup: The BMW Masters (Oct. 25-28) and WGC-HSBC Champions (Nov. 1-4) in China and the Tiger Woods World Challenge (Nov. 29-Dec. 2).
After next week’s Barclays at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course on Long Island, the top 100 on the FedEx Cup standings will advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston. From there, the top 70 will qualify for the BMW Championship in Carmel, Ind., before the top 30 play in the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“So I feel like I need to come here and play … and I’m just not going to be able to fit in The Barclays this year,” Dufner said.