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In The Swing: A month to remember for newly-wed Dufner

The 35-year-old’s stock has risen substantially after two PGA Tour wins in the past three weeks.

Dufner won the PGA Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday.
Dufner won the PGA Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday.
Image: TIM SHARP/AP/Press Association Images

A MONTH AGO, Jason Dufner was a guy who had been playing consistently great golf, but couldn’t manage to get the coveted win.

At the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, that all changed. He got the win he had been waiting for and deserved.

The following week, his life changed even more. He got married.

Then, this week again, at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, he was walking inside the winner’s circle. His stars have aligned and everything is coming up Dufner. All credit to him.

He did it in pretty dramatic fashion this week as well. For a guy who admitted afterwards that he’s “not the most comfortable on the greens”, he did a hell of a job holing his 25 footer to avoid having to go to a playoff.

He never came across as the most confident guy, but his appearance obviously doesn’t reflect what is going on inside. What he may have lacked in terms of comfort with the putter, he made up for it with ball striking. He led the field in greens in regulation and was second in driving accuracy.

The quality of his ball striking was evident for all to see in last year’s PGA Championship. He has maitained that level while adding a bit more mental steel and calmness when in contention. With the US Open on the horizon in mide-June, Dufner will have the perfect opportunity to make ammends for that PGA Championship and with the way he is striking the ball, the US Open may well be the perfect tournament for him.

On this side of the pond, it was a surprise victory for Nicolas Colsaerts in the Volvo World Matchplay. It may have only been a 24-man field, but it was a strong field that boasted five Major winners along with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker, Robert Karlsson and Ian Poulter.

It is an event that was traditionally held at Wentworth in Surrey but in recent years has moved to Finca Cortesin in Spain. The format has also evolved. Instead of the traditional knock-out matchplay, there is now a three-player round robin with the top two players in each group proceeding to the knock-out stage.

It is an interesting format that has not been widely trialled in golf, but one which seems to add a bit more spice to the early stages of the tournament. The tournament is certainly to be credited for trying something different, particularly at a time when the rival PGA Tour seems to be regaining some of its dominance of old.

There have been periods over recent years where European Tour events have boasted stronger fields than those of their American cousins and the strength of the Tour was underlined when the likes of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood opted against taking up full playing privileges in the States.

This year, however, that changed again and both McIlroy and Westwood have been at the centre of some of the most entertaining drama so far on the PGA Tour this year.

The European Tour needs events like the Volvo Matchplay and indeed the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this coming week will be a showcase of some of the best talent Europe has to offer. The aforementioned McIlroy and Westwood will be in the field as will Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Martin Laird and many other top players.

It is one of those weeks where the focus will be very much on the European Tour, a case that hasn’t been since arguably the ‘Desert Swing’ in the Middle East back in January/February.

Equally as entertaining as the event itself will no doubt be the pro-am that this year has become an interesting side-show, not least because we know a lot of the amateurs playing, including many of those outlined by Niall Kelly yesterday.

It will be intersting to see whether the top players carry their form over from the States or whether a European Tour stalwart will take inspiration from Nicolas Colsaerts’ win last week and provide another surprise.

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