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June 4, 2017

Jason Dufner

Dublin, Ohio

MARK WILLIAMS: Jason Dufner, thank you for joining us, the 2017 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide champion. It's your fifth victory on the PGA Tour. You move from 56th to 13th in the FedExCup, and you put yourself back in contention for the Presidents Cup. A lot of good things happened today after a really rough day for you yesterday. Talk a little bit about that.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, yesterday was obviously disappointing for me, especially how the first two days went. I think sometimes you get in this mindset where, when you're playing that well, you're not going to play that poorly. And it kind of shocks you. That's a little bit of what happened yesterday.

But was able to get past it and focus on today. The nice thing about playing so well the first two days is I could kind of afford to have that day. Not the day I wanted, but could still afford to have that day and still be in contention come Sunday.

So it kind of happened to me at the PGA, I shot 63 Friday the year I won. Saturday was a real struggle. And came back on Sunday. I was able to rebound.

MARK WILLIAMS: The 18th hole has been particularly kind to you this week, obviously holing out day 2 and I think it was your longest putt today on the final hole.

JASON DUFNER: Yeah, the weather today just came right up, as we got on that 18th tee. And I tried to wait as long as I could because I knew that storm was coming. And tried to let it pass and maybe get a delay so I could get a little bit calmer conditions. But they weren't pulling the trigger on that.

I hit the tee shot, and I wasn't going in the water, I knew that. I thought I could get in the bunker, play from the bunker worst case. The wind was really, really blowing left-to-right at that time. It didn't get to the bunker, was in a nasty lie, couldn't get it to the fairway, but felt pretty good about my chances once I got it over the bunker and got it on the green. And 35-foot putt or so to go in to win is always nice.

MARK WILLIAMS: Mr. Nicklaus, you spoke out there about having a fellow Ohioan win, obviously the second one and you were the first. What do you think about that?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I was the other one? I didn't know who that was. That sounds pretty good. That's one thing that the television tower said today, Well, if Dufner wins, he'll be the second Ohioan.

How much time did you spend in Ohio?

JASON DUFNER: About ten years, but I still have family. My grandmother is still here.

JACK NICKLAUS: You live in Auburn now?

JASON DUFNER: I do, I live in Alabama. So I've been in Alabama longer than Ohio, but I can still claim it.

JACK NICKLAUS: You can still claim it. I've lived in Florida, I think, longer than I have in Ohio, still, but I can still claim it.

Q. You had a couple of bounceback birdies on the front nine and your whole day was really a bounceback. Is it extra gratifying to show so much fight and get the win the way the way that you won?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think I've always been a fighter, especially since I've turned professional. Doing this hasn't come easy for me. There's been a lot of struggles and a lot of setbacks. I didn't come straight out of college and play the PGA Tour. It took me almost ten years to get out here. Took me another two after that to win and actually get to where I felt comfortable.

So I always take a lot of pride in kind of being a fighter, trying to come back. I played really good a couple of weeks ago in Dallas. I have a great history at Colonial. Felt like Colonial could be a week to be in contention and I missed the cut. I was pissed. I was upset. I was disappointed. I mean, you have all these thoughts in the moment.

But I went home for a couple of days and regrouped and was determined this week to get in contention. And there was two 65s and I'm cruising, and then not cruising yesterday, and come back today.

I think that's just a good attribute. I think a lot of golfers have that in them. It's a difficult game. You've got to kind of pick your things to be excited about. Because the majority of the time we're not winning tournaments. It's extremely difficult out here. I've played probably close to 500 professional tournaments and this is probably my seventh or eighth win, and that's a pretty low percentage.

Q. Yesterday Daniel Summerhays applauded your attitude on what was a very tough day, saying how challenging was it to hang in there. What did you feel the biggest difference was today?
JASON DUFNER: I think yesterday was a tough day, and I did the best I could. I was disappointed with the bogey on 16 and 18. Those are two shots I felt like maybe I needed. But didn't turn out that way.

I respect everybody out here, so I wasn't going to make that day about me and get in his way. Everybody is really talented out here. Everybody is really trying to win golf tournaments. I wanted to be respectful. I was dealing with my struggle, but I didn't want to affect him. That was important yesterday.

And then today just to come back. The front nine was important to me. I needed to go out there and prove myself that I could make some birdies and get back into it. I made some birdies, offset it with some bogeys, but to get around even par or 1-under or so, I felt like that would be where I needed to be and be right in position to go in and attack on the back nine. That's kind of how it worked out for me.

Q. You seem very laid back, nothing gets to you. But what did you do to get over what happened yesterday? You said you maybe beat balls and got some of the anger out. Has this been a maturing process through your career of sort of learning to put things behind you?
JASON DUFNER: I think so. That's a huge quality that you have to kind of learn as a golfer is to put things behind you because you're not always having the successes you want. You're not always playing how you want. But how can you move on from it?

Yesterday was important for me to not leave the golf course mad and disappointed and pissed off. So I went to the range. I hit balls for about 25, 30 minutes. I wasn't really working on anything in particular, but I was just hitting balls. I needed to blow some steam off. I was disappointed, I was pissed off. I went and putted little bit. And after I let that moment go then I can go on from it.

It was important for me not to leave this golf course angry and upset. Had some dinner after all of that and was getting some rest, getting ready for today.

Q. Do you have experience with that? In other words, has there been a time where you've had a stinky Saturday and you did leave the golf course mad? And how did that work out the next day?
JASON DUFNER: I can't really recall, to be honest with you, but I'm sure there have been times I left the golf course mad and upset and it kind of stays with me.

I needed to leave it at the golf course yesterday, I felt like, and to move on. It would be best for me today. It wasn't something that I planned or that I thought about, it's just that's what I felt like I needed to do.

Q. There's some guys who play good when they're angry. Are you better off playing --
JASON DUFNER: I don't do much good when I'm angry. I need to be pretty mellow and chill.

Q. This win combined with your win last year, does that give you belief to go win that second Major Championship?
JASON DUFNER: That would be nice. That's the goal. I had a pretty good Masters for me this year. I made 19 birdies at the Masters, which is a lot of birdies. I finished at 5-over, if you can believe that. So that gave me a lot of confidence with that golf tournament.

I don't know much about Erin Hills, but I think this is probably a good stepping-stone for those types of things.

Majors are very difficult to win. There's only four of them a year. Best in the world are playing there. But I feel like I have the type of game, my game, as well, that I can compete. I've had three or four pretty close calls on majors, and I don't feel like I'm done being able to compete in them.

Q. (No microphone.)
JASON DUFNER: Shoot the lowest score at the majors.

JACK NICKLAUS: That works pretty well.

JASON DUFNER: You know, I don't know. It's different for each one. Erin Hills is kind of an unknown to all of us, so that will be a different challenge for us and learning that golf course.

The Open Championship, I love Birkdale, played a couple of casual rounds. We'll see what it's like in championship shape.

Quail Hollow, I haven't played in a while. But the PGA's are usually a great fit for me. It varies week to week.

One thing I'm excited is the Masters. I feel like making 19 birdies, I have a chance. I know the golf course well enough. That was my fifth or sixth time playing. I kind of know how to play it. I need to get the bogeys and doubles out of there.

But majors are tough. It's the best field in the world usually on one of the toughest golf courses in the world. There's only four of them a year.

Q. There will be a lot of attention on the putt you made on 18. But the 17th seemed to be critical on the way you played. Could you speak to that?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, the 30-footer seemed to be a little easier for me than those three-footers. But that's just kind of what it -- sometimes I feel like I had to do that. I feel like if I wanted to have a chance to win today that I needed to hit it close.

I hit it really close on 10.

Hit it pretty close on 12 for that hole location.

Hit 15 in two.

Hit it to three feet on 17.

Those are the things I feel like I need to do to win golf tournaments. I'm not holing a lot of eight- to 15-footers for the most part. I felt like I had an opportunity to push it.

17 was a perfect number, it fit my eye really well and was able to hit it really close. Those are the type of things I feel I need to do to win and play well. And that just kind of happens.

It happened at the PGA when I won. It happened last year at the event in Palm Springs.

Q. (No microphone.)
JASON DUFNER: 56. That's the other thing, I had a couple of really good numbers. I had a perfect number on 10, 170 yards to the pin, little bit into the wind, 7-iron, perfect, no sweat. Not trying to fit it into any number.

17, I had 118 yards to the pin, 110 to cover that bunker straight downwind. I know that number is perfect for me.

It doesn't happen all the time. People don't realize we're constantly trying to fit clubs to numbers that might not be comfortable for us. When you know you can swing at 90 percent and this is the number it's going to be, that's nice.

Q. Jack, you've seen the plenty of weather conditions over the years, did you think you were going to get by this time? Almost went four days without it?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I think Slugger came down to the house yesterday morning early, and I walked out and I said, Okay, Slug, what do you want to do?

He said, No, no, no, the weather is going to be perfect. Today we aren't going to have anything. He says, It's gotten better to improve for tomorrow. It's going to be good. He said, I just came down to thank you for a great week, and thank you for a great week of weather.

I said, Great, fantastic.

But this morning I guess they updated it, and they said at 4 o'clock we might see something. And it popped back up. And that's exactly what happened, it was around 4 o'clock that it happened.

But how could you complain about the weather we had this week? How many people did it affect? It only affected maybe 20 guys, I suppose.

JASON DUFNER: About ten groups.

JACK NICKLAUS: At the end, and that's all it did. I think we had a great week of weather. And if you get through a week in Columbus, Ohio without a drop of rain, that's pretty good. And unfortunately we just had -- what we did have was just a little bit at the wrong time.

Q. One for Jason, and one for Mr. Nicklaus.
Jason, now that you're up here Sunday night sitting next to Jack, what does it mean to you now that you've won his tournament? And for Jack, do you see anything in Dufner that reminds you of you?

JASON DUFNER: Want to go first?

JACK NICKLAUS: I have to figure out an answer first (laughter).

JASON DUFNER: You know, I spoke about it at the presentation a little bit. Everybody on the PGA Tour is really excited to be part of this event. Just being part of the event, knowing what Mr. Nicklaus does, knowing what Nationwide does for the global area, and having such a fantastic venue, we're excited to be here. We love playing this event.

And then to always have my name attached with this event, Mr. Nicklaus, that's the thing that makes me proud the most, I think. And I think just being part of history in golf is amazing to me.

That's why the Masters is my favorite tournament because everybody that's played golf at a high level has played that golf course, right? It's an amazing piece of history to be part of.

So I'll always have a close place in my heart for this event, being a champion now. It will be very special for me to look back and know that I'm part of an event that Mr. Nicklaus puts on out here on the PGA Tour.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think he probably likes this one better than Augusta right now.

JASON DUFNER: It's paying a little bit better.

JACK NICKLAUS: We always love to have a champion who's played the best golf of the week. Jason played the best golf this week. When we see a guy who really just lights the course up for two days and then struggles, and it's the common thing to have. It's hard to lead. And he led by six shots?

JASON DUFNER: Something like that.

JACK NICKLAUS: Whatever it was, it was a lot. And I've been part of losing a lead like that. And I've been part of the other side, catching somebody who did that.

I remember one -- one of the traditions, Phil Rogers was just blitzing the golf course, and I called Phil after -- on Friday night and I said, Congratulations, go out there and finish the tournament off. I was 11 shots behind him and I ended up beating him. But it was not Phil's fault. It just I happened to play well.

And he played his round yesterday that wasn't good. He knows it wasn't good. He said he was ticked off last night. He went off and got out of his way and he went out and played golf today. And not only did he play golf today, he played smart and he played solid golf and didn't get himself in any trouble, he just went ahead and won a golf tournament. Everybody else ended up having the problems he had yesterday finishing up.

You never know what's going to happen. And we're delighted to have Jason as our winner. He's a quality player. He's a PGA champion. He's got a great record and that just adds to his record, and I think he's got a lot more in him. He'll come back here and play well here again, and he'll play well in Augusta. Maybe this will tune him up to play well in Augusta. Make 19 birdies again, but not 5-over.

JASON DUFNER: I'll try to be under par next time. That's embarrassing.

Q. Could you talk about how much fun it is to make a putt like that in that situation at the end and maybe run us through what you were thinking as you size it up on 18, knowing the situation.
JASON DUFNER: I knew I was in pretty good shape. Rickie was probably the only threat I had in that situation, so it was nice playing with him. I played a lot of golf this winter with Rickie, so I know what he's capable of doing around the greens. He's chipped in a bunch of times on me in games at home.

It was nice to go first. It's a pretty easy read from where I was. Got a little break right-to-left and uphill, which is kind of the ones you want. And when you're in that 25 to 30 foot range you'd like to make it but you want to get it close for the next putt, you know.

So I had a good read on it. I felt confident with it, I just wanted to make sure I got it to the hole. And then it went in and I pretty much felt like the tournament was over. But I didn't want to celebrate too much because Rickie is my guy, and I didn't want to rub it in too much. But he's a pretty good sport about it. So I had a little fist pump there.

And he said after, As soon as you hit that putt, it was about five feet off and I knew you made it.

But it was nice playing with him. We're good buds. We play a lot of golf together, so it was comfortable. It helps playing, to be honest with you, because you kind of know what he's hitting because I played so much with him. Sometimes you can get a feel off of how things are playing out there.

The 12th hole today, I knew that he hit a 7-iron, came up short. And we're almost about the same on irons. And I was going to hit 7 and I ended up hitting 6 and made birdie. And it helped me get the win. Those little things help. It's nice to play with friends. All these guys are very supportive. We're all very supportive in that circle.

Q. Why is the 30-footer easier than three-footers for you and what do you have to do to maybe flip that around?
JASON DUFNER: I don't know. I felt pretty good on Thursday and Friday from short range. Yesterday was a struggle. Probably a little bit of residual from yesterday. But the short ones I've struggled with in my career. But more often than not, I make them. I make more than I miss, I can promise you that, even though they might not look pretty.

Q. On the 18th tee, how badly did you want a delay called at that point?
JASON DUFNER: I was waiting for it.

Q. What went through your head when they blew the horn after you drove it right? During the delay, did you think that maybe this would be closer than you expected given where Rickie put his drive?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, so the weather got real nasty there walking from 17 green to 18 tee, blowing really hard. Got some sideways rain coming down. And usually when that happens around these parts, you know there's a storm pretty close or on the horizon.

I took my time as much as I could on 18 because it's a bit of a disadvantage on that hole to have that type of wind going at that time. But I ended up hitting and in the rough. Not much I can do about it after they blew the horn. But it kind of worked out.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get it back to the fairway from where I was. Almost got it back to the fairway. It was a pretty bad lie down there by the bunker.

But I kind of scouted it out as we were waiting for them to blow the horn, if I got it over that bunker, the rough wasn't too bad over the bunker, I could probably get it on the green. Getting over the bunker was the thing.

It could have gone either way. Rickie had a wedge in his hand, he could have hit that close. He's done it numerous times at home on me with a wedge. I know he was trying. And the wind looked like it took his ball a touch left. So I knew he missed the green. He was going to have to chip in. He's a great chipper.

I felt like if I could get it on the green and two-putt, I could win the tournament. If not, at least have a playoff. It was close at the end.

He had some good shots on 16 and 17 that I thought were going to be birdie putts and they ended up being birdie chips, which is kind of part of this game, unfortunately. But he played pretty well all day. I'm sure he was deflated when I made that putt, took the steam out of having a chance to win. I haven't seen him hit a pitch like that in a long time.

Q. Curious on Rickie, your training under Vijay when you first came on Tour with all the money games, where do you stand with Rickie?
JASON DUFNER: I always win on Tuesdays. I always win on Tuesdays. I always win at home. We had a good winter. I spent a lot of time down there in November and December. And I spent all of February down there. He was down there a lot. So I played with those guys a lot. Played with Justin Thomas a lot and Rickie. We had some good matches. I think it was good for me.

There's been times where I've kind of gone -- fallen in and out of love with golf, to be honest with you, as a professional. It was good to be around those guys, they're excited. They're passionate. They're working hard at it. They want to play good. They're hungry. They want to win tournaments. They want to win majors. So for me to be around them I think helped me kind of get to this point.

Q. (No microphone.)
JASON DUFNER: I'm always invited to spring break. They always go to Hilton Head. I almost had a chance to win there. They were giving me grief from that because I wasn't there with them. I said I'm trying to make it worth my while being here at Hilton Head.

MARK WILLIAMS: Jason, congratulations on your victory. Mr. Nicklaus, thank you again, wonderful tournament, and we appreciate you hosting us.


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