The 36-year-old with the laid-back style and emotionless manner around the course won the 95th PGA Championship, holding off Jim Furyk to claim his first major title.
Dufner won two years after squandering a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. After that defeat, he won his first US PGA titles last year at New Orleans and the Byron Nelson Championship.
But this year, Dufner became an Internet sensation after a picture of him seated in a relaxed position with an emotionless stare became a web site with the tagline “Dufner-ing.”
But what had been used to poke fun at Dufner turned into a following, with fellow golfers and fans sending their own “Dufner-ing” images.
“Got some notoriety for maybe something that was probably taken trying to hurt me a little bit and ran with it and it helped a lot,” Dufner said. “I got a lot of fans because of it and people identified me through it and that was good.”
Dufner vows that winning a coveted major title will not make him a different person, although it will ensure he plays at major golf tournaments for a while.
“It’s definitely going to change my life, but I’m determined that it’s not going to change me,” Dufner said. “It’s going to be a difficult task but I will take it step by step and day by day and go with it. I’m determined not to let it change me — just maybe the surroundings I’m in.”
Dufner has become something of an everyman favorite with fans, in part because he feels carefree enough to grab his wife Amanda’s rear during a celebration kiss coming off the 18th green.
Golfers can also relate to the emotions and nerves Dufner is careful to hide from his face but can’t hide from his putting.
He fired a seven-under par 63 to match the low round in major-golf history in Round Two, and had a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole for a 62. He left that 18 inches short and edged the par putt into the side of the cup.
On Saturday, Dufner had a two-footer for par at 18 that slid around the right side of the cup and fell in the back of the cup, a putt he admitted he thought he had missed.
On Sunday, the golf gods smiled upon him again at the 10th hole when a 12-inch putt just curled in the right edge and rolled into the cup.