5 Things: Dufner wins Nelson for 2nd win in month
Jason Dufner made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the HP Byron Nelson Championship to claim his second PGA Tour title in three starts. His final-round 67 put him at 11-under 269, one shot ahead of Dicky Pride.
1. DUFNER DOES IT: It took Dufner 164 starts to earn his first PGA Tour victory. He needed only two more to earn his second.
Dufner's first win came April 29 at the Zurich Classic, where he missed two makeable birdie putts for the win before beating Ernie Els on the second hole of a playoff. Dufner didn’t need any extra chances this time, holing a 25-footer on the final hole for a one-stroke victory at the Byron Nelson Championship. In between wins, he married his fiancee, Amanda Boyd, on May 5.
“It’s been a great month for both of us,” Dufner said. “To get married on top of it all, you couldn’t really ask for much more, personally or professionally.”
Dufner’s putt on the 72nd hole gave him the win, but his ball-striking put him in position to take another trophy. He led the Nelson field in greens-in-regulation (58 of 72), was second in driving accuracy (42 of 56) and ninth in driving distance (316.6 yards).
He joins Hunter Mahan as the only players with multiple wins in 2012. Dufner also moved atop the FedEx Cup standings and moved closer to making his first Ryder Cup team.
Dufner has held at least a share of the lead after 10 of his past 32 PGA Tour rounds. He’s now 2-for-4 when holding the 54-hole lead on Tour.
• • •
2. PRIDE’S DAY: Watching Dufner’s putt was like deja vu for Dicky Pride. He made a near-identical one for par a few minutes earlier. Pride birdied Nos. 15-17 – including a 13-footer on the par-3 17th – but pulled his tee shot into water left of the final fairway. He saved par with a 22-footer on a similar line to Dufner’s.
“Apparently that’s an easy putt because we both made it,” Pride said. That putt gave Pride solo second place, his best Tour finish since his victory at the 1994 FedEx St. Jude Classic. He would have set the PGA Tour record for longest span between victories.
He didn’t win, but he did earn enough money to ensure his PGA Tour card for 2013. He started this season with only past champion’s status. He began the year with consecutive top-10s at Mayakoba and the Honda, though, and has made the cut in five of six starts. He’s earned $1,088,363 in 2012. His three top-10s are a career high.
Pride received a cortisone shot in March for pain in his left elbow. Such shots generally offer relief for six months. “Hopefully that will get me through the end of the year and I won’t have to play extracurricular activities like, oh yeah, Q-School,” he said at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he finished 48th on a sponsor exemption He won’t now.
• • •
3. OH, HENRY: Local favorite J.J. Henry seemed destined to win the Nelson after an ace with a pitching wedge at the 154-yard, par-3 fifth. He took a one-shot lead after consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th holes, the former coming on a 32-foot putt. Henry, though, double-bogeyed the par-3 17th after hitting his tee shot over the green and three-putting from 27 feet. Henry, who lives in Fort Worth and played golf at TCU, finished third at 9 under. Joe Durant, Marc Leishman and Jonas Blixt also tied for third.
Durant began the week onsite at the Nationwide Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am but decided to drive to Atlanta to catch a flight to Dallas as he moved up the alternate list at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
• • •
4. LEFT OUT: Phil Mickelson teed off 90 minutes before the final group, but found himself in contention after making birdie on the par-5 16th to get to 6 under par for the day.
Mickelson hit his tee shot to the 172-yard, par-3 17th to 14 feet, leaving himself a birdie putt to get to 9 under for the event. He three-putted after running his birdie putt 3 feet past the hole. Mickelson also bogeyed the 18th after hitting his approach shot into the water. He tied with Ken Duke for seventh place at 6-under 274. Duke, winner of last year’s Nationwide Tour Championship, has four top-10s in 2012.
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: Matt Kuchar, winner of last week’s Players Championship, finished 15th. ... Though Blixt couldn’t match his roommate, Nick Flanagan, who won Sunday on the Nationwide Tour, Blixt took another step toward securing his 2013 PGA Tour card. Blixt’s third-place finish was his third consecutive top-15. He also was 13th at the Zurich and ninth at the Wells Fargo Championship. He’s earned $713,798. ... Andres Gonzales finished 19th after being given a sponsor exemption. Gonzales, No. 2 on the Nationwide Tour money list, celebrated his 29th birthday on the tournament’s eve. He shot 70 Sunday with one birdie and a bogey on the 18th. A birdie there would’ve given him a top-10 and another PGA Tour start. ... Jason Day, the 2010 Nelson champion, finished ninth, matching his best PGA Tour showing of 2012. A ninth at Wells Fargo was Day’s only other top-10 in eight Tour starts this year. ... Defending champion Keegan Bradley finished 24th. He was in contention entering the weekend, but shot 3-over 143 in the final two rounds. ... Ryan Palmer, who lost a playoff to Bradley at last year’s Nelson, finished ninth this year.