Disclaimer: Despite having once occupied an office that looked out on the 12th green of a golf course on Hilton Head Island, I never played golf in my life.
That said, I have a new golfing hero.
Second Disclaimer: The only time I ever went to the dog races, none of the mutts I bet on finished in the money. I have never won a March Madness pool…You get the idea.
So, it was inevitable that Jim Furyk, my favorite to win the PGA Championship this year, didn’t have a prayer.
Can’t say why I rooted for Furyk, other than he looks like he would be fun to have a beer with. With that close-shave haircut and hooked nose, he wouldn’t seem out of place behind the counter at an auto parts store.
I’ll admit to a preference for underdogs.
Don’t get me wrong: I think Tiger Woods has been great for golf, but the amount of attention he draws seems unfair. Woods can be 14 strokes off the lead heading into the final round of a tournament and still get as much ink as the top 10 guys combined.
I’ll also cop to being a sports jingoist. How did all these foreigners get so good at OUR game all of a sudden?
While I was trying to direct my psychic powers toward Furyk, I was annoyed when CBS Sports cut away to cover the progress of two Brits, Adam Scott, an Aussie, and Rory McIlroy, from Northern Ireland.
And while I was worrying about them, who pops up right behind the leaders?
Two Swedes! Who knew they played golf?
What’s worse, one of them (Henrik Stenson) is drop-dead handsome. It’s not enough that the Europeans want to steal the PGA Championship, but they’re out to steal the hearts of our women as well.
As if the institution of marriage isn’t already in trouble in this country, what’s going to happen when American wives start plopping down on the sofa next to their husbands and cooing, “Isn’t he just the cutest thing”?
As shadows lengthened at the Oak Hill Country Club, it became increasingly obvious that Furyk’s biggest challenge was from neither the Brits nor the Swedes but from a dumpy-looking fellow countryman in need of a haircut.
Every time Furyk’s tee shot landed in the fairway, which wasn’t that often, Jason Dufner’s ball would end up a few yards beyond his, comfortably within the fairway.
When Furyk hit a brilliant shot out of the rough or a bunker, landing 30 yards or so from the pin, Dufner would loft his ball well past the pin and see it spin backwards to within a few clubs length of the hole.
I was reminded of what Butch Cassidy said to the Sundance Kid after days of failing to elude a posse: “Who are those guys?”
Dufner, who would end the tournament as only one of six PGA players ever to win a major tournament with a round of 63, would never be Central Casting’s choice for golf stardom.
At 36, he could pass for a decade older, and – if I’m not mistaken – there was a bit of a paunch hanging over his belt that Sunday. In short, he looks like half the guys who spend their weekends hacking away at the game.
As real golf fans know, Dufner is far from a duffer. Although he had never won a major tournament before the PGA, he was ranked among the top 50 players on the Tour. Including his latest purse, he’s earned more than $2.6 million since turning pro 12 years ago.
Best of all, he appears unflappable. While other golfers grimace or look to heaven for a reprieve from the golfing gods, Dufner’s expression never changes.
Apparently, a video of him participating in a relaxation exercise in a Texas school was a You Tube rage earlier this year. There’s even a name for his deadpan persona: Dufnering.
When asked how he handles pressure, Dufner reportedly said he tries to avoid stress because “stress stresses me out.”
Eat your heart out, Yogi Berra.
Email former Herald Editor Terry Plumb at firstname.lastname@example.org.