Dufner seeks Masters magic after PGA heartache

06 Apr 2012 23:46

Eight months after squandering a four-stroke lead over the last four holes and losing the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner finds himself sharing the lead after two rounds at the Masters.

Dufner, who has never won a tour-level title in six US PGA seasons, fired a two-under par 70 on Friday to stand alongside US compatriot Fred Couples on five-under par 139 after 36 holes.

"I've had some really good rounds and I'm just kind of searching to put four together," Dufner said. "I have been feeling really good about my game."

Dufner endured an epic failure last August in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club with bogeys at 15, 16 and 17. He salvaged a par at 18 to force a playoff with Keegan Bradley but lost to the Major debutante.

Despite the heartache, Dufner took some lessons from the experience.

"Just to be confident out here," Dufner said. "I had some really nice rounds at PGA. Didn't quite work out but carried over, I think, into this year. It gave me confidence that I can compete and play at a high level out here."

After suffering the humiliating PGA defeat, Dufner vowed that he would have such a chance as he has given himself at Augusta National.

"Maybe looking back 10, 15 years from now, I'll feel disappointment that I let this one get away if I never get another chance," Dufner said.

"But, I've got a feeling that I'm going to have some chances to win some Majors and some other golf tournaments to close one out."

Dufner could follow in the path of 22-year-old golf icon Rory McIlroy, who botched the final nine holes of last year's Masters after leading but bounced back to win the next major, the US Open at Congressional only two months later.

During his rounds, Dufner adopts a stoic visage, trying to keep the tension hidden from rivals and spectators even as pressure churns inside him.

"There's a lot more going on out there than appears," Dufner said. "I feel like I have the same emotions and same thought processes as a lot of guys, but I seem to not show it quite as well as some other players. It's just difficult.

"It's a test to yourself. You are trying to have the same mentality and confidence out there."

Don't mistake a calm manner for a lack of appreciation of the moment, even as Dufner tries to treat a major round like any other.

"I know the situation and I'm playing a Major," he said. "I know everything that's going on. At times I know I that I am leading or behind or whatever it might be in that situation.

"I'm just trying to have a nice round of golf, play well, commit to my shots and let the rest take care of itself."