Rochester, NY – He may have stumbled on the final two holes, but Jason Dufner did more than enough over the first 16 to win the 95th PGA Championship.
Dufner had four birdies and 12 pars in the first 16 holes en route to a closing 2-under 68. He ended his first major championship victory at 10-under- par 270 at Oak Hill.
The 36-year-old had coughed up the lead late in the 2011 PGA Championship, then lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. Dufner's stellar iron play on this Sunday wouldn't allow that to happen.
"It's been a tough day, a long day, it was a tough golf course. It probably still hasn't hit me yet, and I can't believe this is happening to me," Dufner said at the trophy presentation. "To come back from a couple years ago in this championship, when I lost to Keegan in a playoff, to win feels really, really good. It's a great feeling to win one of these."
Jim Furyk, the third-round leader, stumbled to a 1-over 71 to end alone in second at minus-8. The 2003 U.S. Open champion failed to hold the 54-hole lead for a fifth straight time in which he was in that position.
"There was other times where I felt like the tournament slipped through my fingers and out of my grasp and I was definitely disappointed. I played my heart out today. No regrets over it," said Furyk. "I played a very, very solid tournament. If I could go back, I'd have loved to try to make par at 17 and 18 and really put some heat on him.
"And I wasn't able to do that. That's the one thing that's the thorn in my side, but he played well. I didn't hit it as crisp."
Dufner looked as solid as an oak on the front nine as he carded six pars to go with three birdies, none of which were from more than five feet out. He remained solid until dropped shots on the final two holes.
He was two clear before those dropped shots, and remained there as his playing partner, Furyk, tripped to bogeys on those two holes as well.
Henrik Stenson, who like Dufner was going for his first major championship victory, closed with an even-par 70 to end alone in third at 7-under 273. Jonas Blixt played alongside his countryman Stenson, and also carded a 70 in the final round. Blixt ended alone in fourth at 6-under-par 274.
Masters winner Adam Scott bogeyed two of the last three holes en route to a 70 of his own. He tied for fifth place with Scott Piercy, who fired a 5-under 65 for the low round of the day, at 5-under.
Rory McIlroy, the 2012 champion, managed a 70 on Sunday to end in a share of eighth at 3-under-par 277.
Four-time champion Tiger Woods went out in 3-over 38 with a bogey at eight and a double-bogey at nine. Around the turn, he birdied three of four holes from the 12th to get back to even-par for his round. Woods parred the last three holes to finish at 4-over 284.
Tim Clark, who finished third at the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill, recorded the first hole-in-one of the week. He aced the par-3 11th, but still struggled to a 75, which left him at plus-10.
British Open champ and Phil Mickelson mixed four birdies, a triple bogey, a double bogey and a bogey in a round of 2-over 72. The 2007 PGA winner ended the tournament at 12-over 292.
Furyk and Dufner matched pars on the first three holes. Dufner knocked his second shot over the green at the fourth, but he chipped inside five feet and made the birdie putt to tie Furyk at minus-9.
Dufner, who won twice in the 2012 season, made it two in a row as he stuffed his approach at the fifth within a foot. He kicked that birdie in to go one clear of Furyk.
Furyk, a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour, answered with a 25-foot birdie effort on the sixth to join Dufner atop the leaderboard. The final two holes on the front nine proved to be the difference.
At the eighth, Dufner again knocked his approach within a foot and tapped in for birdie and the lead at 11-under.
Furyk's approach at the ninth came up short of the putting surface. He chipped to 12 feet, but failed to convert. The bogey dropped Furyk two back as they headed to the back nine.
With nine holes to go, it was down to the two leaders, while Stenson was briefly in the mix too. The Swede birdied the 13th to move within two at minus-9. However, Stenson bogeyed two of the next four to slide to minus-7.
Dufner and Furyk matched pars on the first six holes of the back nine. Furyk's approach at the 16th landed just over 10 feet from the hole. Dufner answered by dropping his second shot inside a foot.
In a bit of match play, Furyk buried his birdie try to put a little pressure on Dufner, who responded by converting his birdie effort.
Things got sloppy the final two holes. Furyk missed the green at 17, then left his chip in the rough. He got up and down for bogey from there. Dufner 3- putted for bogey from long range for his first bogey in 27 holes.
At the last, both players found the rough off the tee and both came up short with their second shots. Furyk blasted some 20 feet behind the hole, then 2- putted for a closing bogey.
Dufner chipped 12 feet short of the hole. After Furyk 2-putted for bogey, Dufner left his par effort just short. He knocked in his bogey putt for the biggest win of his life.
"I thought about that a lot. I thought about this putt being to win the PGA Championship, to win whatever tournament it might have been. Fortunately for me, I had little bit of cushion there on the last hole and that last putt was right in the perfect range for me to make it," Dufner stated.
"There's not much to celebrate from six inches or less, but it was nice to have that short of a putt to cap this off. I didn't practice too many four-to- six inchers to win a tournament. But, you know, it was a perfect ending for me."
NOTES: Dufner claimed $1,445,000 for the victory ... He now owns three PGA Tour victories, while this was his first European Tour title ... There were 25 rounds under par in the final round ... With Dufner's win, 18 of the last 21 majors have been won by different players, and 15 of the last 19 major winners were first-time major champions ... Dufner was one of 13 players that made the cut in all four majors ... All four majors champions in 2013 came from behind in the final round to win ... The PGA Tour is in North Carolina next week for the final event of the regular season, the Wyndham Championship, where Sergio Garcia won by two last year.