PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Jason Dufner is that guy who was caught on camera slumped against a classroom wall, gazing straight ahead with a blank stare, arms rigidly by his side.
“Dufnering,” they called it.
He became an Internet sensation.
Maybe by the time he leaves Oak Hill, Dufner will be known as something else.
Dufner teed off Saturday with a two-stroke lead at the PGA Championship, coming off a record-tying performance in the second round. He shot a 7-under 63, becoming just the 24th player to go that low in a major championship.
“To join history, to shoot 63 in a major, that’s pretty unbelievable,” Dufner said. “To be leading the tournament, even better.”
Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar were the closest pursuers, while eight other players were lurking within five shots of the lead.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were nowhere close on a warm, sunny day in western New York.
Lefty, who won the British Open just three weeks ago, was in a next-to-last place among the 75 players making the cut after an ugly 78. He had a triple-bogey at the seventh, then a double-bogey at the 14th when he chipped in through the green twice before finally getting one to stick.
Coming off a seven-stroke victory at the Bridgestone, Woods turned in another mediocre round (73) that ensured another year without a major title. He walked off the course a staggering 13 shots behind Dufner before the leader even teed off.
Woods will climb to 0-for-18 in the majors since his last win at the 2008 U.S. Open.
While the wind picked up and the course seemed to playing tougher than the first two days, there were still chances to go low. Dustin Johnson shot a 65. Kevin Streelman signed for a 66.
For Dufner, the weekend provided a chance to shake off the low point of his pro career, when he squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes to play at the 2011 PGA in Atlanta.
After losing to Keegan Bradley in a playoff, Dufner didn’t seem too upset. He said matter-of-factly that he expected to get more chances on the major stage.
“What’s happened in the past with me in majors is in the past,” Dufner said. “I’m still trying to chase it, still trying to learn from the mistakes I made in prior majors.”
There weren’t many mistakes on Friday. Dufner holed out from the fairway for eagle, rolled in a putt across the green for par and kept making birdies — five in all — until he stood 12 feet away from a shot at the lowest score in the 153 years of championship golf. He didn’t give it a chance, coming up 18 inches short and acknowledging a case of the nerves for the first time all day.
“You couldn’t have a better putt for a chance at history on the last hole,” Dufner said. “I just didn’t quite hit it hard enough.”
Dufner tied the 36-hole record (9-under 131) at the PGA, a mark he now shares with six other players. His 63 broke the course record at Oak Hill held by Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson, who shot 64 about five hours earlier Friday. Dufner became the 24th player to shoot 63 in a major — Greg Norman and Vijay Singh, both in the Hall of Fame, did it twice.
Dufner’s popularity has grown since April, when someone took that photo of him during a charity event as the teacher taught children how to relax and concentrate.
He embraced the craze, which seems to fit perfectly with his laid-back approach.
Scott, playing in the final group Saturday with Dufner, was in the hunt on the weekend for the fourth time in the last six majors. Furyk and Kuchar in the next-to-last group joined Scott at 133. Henrik Stenson, a runner-up at Muirfield, and U.S. Open winner Justin Rose were at 134, only three shots behind. Steve Stricker and Robert Garrigus were another shot back.
After his historic round, Dufner gave up his cap, shirt and glove to the PGA for its museum.
The prize he really wants is the Wanamaker Trophy.
“I’m looking forward to a good weekend,” Dufner said, “and maybe closing one of these out.”
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