Dufner (63) ties major scoring record, seizes lead
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Jason Dufner joined one of the most elite fraternities in golf on Friday when he tapped in a 2-foot putt for 63 on the 18th hole at Oak Hill Golf Club. The score broke the previous tournament course record (64) that was held by Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange, and matched Friday by Webb Simpson. It also vaulted Dufner from a tie for 11th into the lead at the PGA Championship, two shots ahead Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar.
Dufner is now the 26th player to shoot 63 in a major championship and, ironically, he played on Friday alongside the last man to shot 63 in a major -- Steve Stricker (2011 PGA Championship).
PHOTOS: PGA Championship, Jason Dufner
View pictures of Jason Dufner from the second round of the PGA Championship at Oak HIll where Dufner shot a 7-under 63.
"Obviously the rain, the soft golf course, made it scoreable," Dufner said. "But to join history, to shoot 63 in a major championship, is unbelievable. To be leading the tournament is even better, so hopefully it will propel me to a great weekend."
Dufner was not only bogey-free on the day, he never had to write the number five on his card.
After holing out from 105 yards with a sand wedge on the par-4 second hole for eagle, Dufner carded two more birdies on the front nine and then caught fire. He birdied the 10th; flushed a 3-iron on the 234-yard par-3 11th to 8 feet and made the birdie putt; and then dropped a pitching wedge approach shot to the 592-yard par-5 13th to 10 feet for another birdie.
"I felt like I could be more aggressive off the tee today," Dufner said. "I hit driver on just about every hole except for 12 and 13."
Dufner said that because the fairways were damp, effectively, they played wider and longer, so going with a driver was a safer play.
"I've been driving it pretty good, which is obviously going to give you shorter clubs into these holes and you can be more in attack mode, so to speak. If you do miss the fairway, as I did a few times, you've got shorter clubs in, because you've taken that chance."
Those shorter clubs helped Dufner hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation on Friday and he took just 26 putts, two fewer than he needed on Thursday when he shot 68.
"We all knew what was going on," said Stricker, who scored a very respectable 67 Friday. "There's just something about breaking that magical 63 barrier that's tough to do."
Johnny Miller was the first golfer to shoot a 63 in a major championship, famously coming from six shots back in the final round at Oakmont Country Club in 1973 U.S. Open to win. In the PGA Championship, both Raymond Floyd in 1982 and Tiger Woods in 2007 recorded 63s at Southern Hills Country Club and went on to victory.
But joining Club 63 doesn't guarantee success in majors. In fact, of the 25 players before Dufner to shot 63 in a major, only five went on to win.
Dufner said that it felt like a Sunday during his round because the crowd was buzzing and the media attention grew on the back nine. But it wasn't a Sunday and he knows there's a lot more work to do if he wants his name etched into the Wanamaker Trophy.
"In my head I was just trying to get farther and farther away from the field, just trying to make birdies," he said.
Before he left Oak Hill on Friday evening, Dufner was asked if he was a little disappointed to have not holed the 25-foot putt that would have given him the elusive 62 and the major scoring record all to himself.
His answer showed maturity and a grasp of the big picture: "I'd rather make history by winning a major."