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August 12, 2011

Jason Dufner


KELLY ELBIN: Jason Dufner joining us, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 5-under par 65 in the second round of the 93rd PGA Championship. Jason is at 5-under for the championship. Congratulations on your play today, particularly with an eagle on 5 and then a birdie to close out the round on 9. Sounds like a very special day for you.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, definitely a good way to finish. I think I played the last seven maybe 4-under, so that was definitely a strong finish to the day and good start for the weekend.
KELLY ELBIN: That's correct, you played holes 3 through 9 in 4-under. Would you mind going through the eagle, the birdies and unfortunately the couple of bogeys, please.
JASON DUFNER: Okay. Started on the back so I guess I'll start there. On 11 I hit a driver and an 8-iron to about 50 feet and made it, so that was a good way to start.
12, I hit driver, 8-iron, sand wedge to about eight feet, made birdie there.
13, I hit a 3-iron and a pitching wedge to about five feet for birdie.
14 was driver, 8-iron, missed the green, putted it actually from the fringe to about three feet and then missed for par, so bogey.
2, I hit driver left in the rough into the greenside bunker, out to about 40 feet, two-putt.
3, I hit driver, 7-iron to about ten feet, made birdie.
5, I hit driver, 3-wood to 25 feet, made eagle.
9, I hit driver in the rough, 8-iron out to about 15 feet, birdie.

Q. You've had a great start to this season, struggled a little bit since the U.S. Open. Did you think that -- were you expecting something like this this week, for it to come back after such a good start?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, you know, I hadn't played very well this summer, but that's kind of par for the course for me, so I had three weeks off coming into this event. I had never seen the golf course, but I've been here since Friday, being in the south, playing college golf in the south, I seem to play most of my good events around Bermudagrass. So I was pretty pumped coming in. We don't get a chance to play too many majors on this grass.
I wouldn't say that I expected to be 5-under after two days, but you know, I felt like I could have a good chance if I played fairly well, yeah. So I was pretty comfortable on this style of golf course.
KELLY ELBIN: How many practice holes did you play since being here Friday.
JASON DUFNER: I played nine Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, then 18 on Tuesday, no golf Wednesday. So this is my fifth round today.

Q. With the water coming into play so much on the course and the fairway bunkers full of that sand that makes it really tough to hit it clean, do you feel like fairways and greens are even more at a premium here than usual?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, definitely. You know, the bunkers aren't playing that well to hit approaches into the greens. Rough is probably even worse. So being in the fairway is paramount in being able to score. I would guess that a lot of guys that are up top are hitting a lot of fairways. You know, and that's a little bit different, I think, than most PGA setups. They usually tend to be a little bit more generous with the rough. But being that we're in the South, again, Bermudagrass, you don't have to get it too thick or too long for it to be very effective.
So I think that's been a bit of an adjustment for guys. I know a lot of guys were thinking with the length coming in, seeing 7,600 or 7,700 yards, whatever it might play, that could be a factor, but I think the PGA has done a pretty good job as far as setup goes. I don't know exactly what the yardage is, but it played shorter than full-out from the back of the tips, for sure.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Jason's hit 18 of 28 fairways, 26 of 36 greens in regulation.

Q. Still a lot of golf to be played, but will your strategy on the weekend change at all, and what would it mean for you personally and your career to win a major championship?
JASON DUFNER: Right, I don't think the strategy will change. I think most of the players kind of go with how it's going sort of mentality. If you get in the hunt towards the back nine, maybe you might adjust some things, play more aggressive if you're right around that lead, but I don't think my strategy would change all that much, like I've said to a lot of people, you've got to hit fairways here. That's the most important thing, and I know that's kind of a cliché and it seems simple, but that's a huge key to the golf course.
If you start missing fairways, whether you're in the bunkers or in the rough, you're not going to be able to be aggressive, you're not going to be able to hit greens, and you're not going to be able to score.
For me, hit fairways, number one; number two would be to be aggressive when you can to some pins, be patient with other pins, and then just chip and putt well. I know that sounds cliché and simple, but I think that's what everybody is thinking.
And second part, as far as winning a major, that would probably be the most meaningful thing to me in my career so far since I've never won anything. It would be pretty amazing for the first win to be a major. I came pretty close last year at Whistling Straits. I had a reasonable chance going into the last nine holes to catch those guys. I think I missed the playoff by two shots.
I don't want to say that I've been there like a lot of guys, but I've had a taste of some opportunities to win some tournaments.
KELLY ELBIN: Jason tied for 5th last year at Whistling Straits.

Q. Taking three weeks off before the PGA, was that something out of necessity, were you frustrated, just trying to hit the refresh button?
JASON DUFNER: Usually that time of year right after the British is when I take some time off, so I was kind of lucky. Last year I think I played Turning Stone before Whistling Straits. That wasn't on the schedule, wasn't in Akron. If I would have been in Akron I would have played. It just kind of worked out that way. It seems to be the time of year that I take a couple weeks off. We usually go on vacation for a week, and I probably needed it. I don't play very well during the summer, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's temperatures, maybe it's golf courses, maybe it's tournaments I don't like. But it was probably time for a little bit of a break to refresh and get ready for this major, and then we've got the Playoffs right around the corner.

Q. For your average golf fan who watches just the majors, tunes in tonight, is used to seeing certain names at the top of leaderboards and sees Jason Dufner, D.A. Points, guys like that, and says, "who?" What do you say to those people?
JASON DUFNER: I would say to them that there's a lot of good guys out here. That's one thing that I've learned, this is my sixth year out here, there's tons and tons of guys that can play golf out here. The networks and the media maybe focus on bigger names for a reason. That's who people want to see. People want to see Tiger Woods, people want to see Phil Mickelson. But there's other guys that can really, really play golf out here and that are really good that you've never heard of.
I think -- and you've seen a lot of first-time winners out here this year, so that's another factor that kind of supports that. I just think it's very, very competitive out here. I don't think the average golf fan realizes how competitive it is to be on the PGA TOUR, keep your card, win tournaments. It's just not an easy thing, and for guys that you've never heard of to do it, that shows you how deep the fields are and how deep the events can be.

Q. So you're not surprised at all?
JASON DUFNER: No, not at all. I mean, there always seems to be a couple guys in majors that surprise people. You know, and those guys that I mentioned earlier, the Wood's and the Mickelson's and the Adam Scott's, you see them most because they play well the most. You might see myself or D.A. Points or whoever else might be up there three or four times a year, but you see these other big names a lot more often, and that just kind of shows you the separation there is between a player like Phil Mickelson or Adam Scott and a D.A. Points or myself.

Q. A little earlier you mentioned how you don't want to say that you've been there before but you've had a chance at Whistling Straits last year. How much do you think that experience on the back nine last year will help you this weekend?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I think it'll be pretty key for the whole weekend. I was in good position, maybe even surprised myself a little bit last year. I was struggling a little bit last year, put a nice last three rounds together at Whistling Straits and carried over a little bit into the playoffs, and I think maybe it carried over into this year.
You know, I think I'll use a lot of things. I don't get too excited or too down or too up. I just kind of play golf. I feel like I'm one of the best in the world at what I do, and you're going to have good weeks, you're going to have bad weeks, you're going to have disappointing nines, you're going to have disappointing weekends. That's just part of being a golf professional. I kind of take it with a grain of salt and play and looking forward. I'm confident with where my game is at now, especially after today's round, and I feel like I can do some good things this weekend.
KELLY ELBIN: You played the par-5s in 4-under par so far. Do you feel like that was an important part of what you need today do coming in.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, definitely. There's only obviously two of them, so to basically play them 2-under each day, you're picking up I'm not sure exactly what it would be, but you're picking up some strokes on the field, and there's not a lot of birdie holes. There's a couple on each nine, and guys tend to think par-5s, birdie holes, and they've had the tees up a little bit on I think three out of the four that we've played, the tees have been up, so we'll see if they changed that a little bit, it's maybe a little bit easier. You've got to take advantage of those of the holes that you can score on, and those two holes seem to be scorable.

Q. You seem pretty even keel. You've told us that you're not going to leave here and then tonight say, man, I'm like a shot off the lead at the PGA Championship? It's not going to get you, the emotion and everything of the week?
JASON DUFNER: No, it doesn't really get you anywhere right now. Maybe back nine on Sunday if I'm a shot off the lead, it could be a little different. But after Sunday is over, I'm going to forget about it and everybody else is going to forget about that I was in the lead or one back after the second round.
It's important in the fact that I'm competitive and in a good spot going into the weekend, but on the same end, it's not that important to be honest with you.
KELLY ELBIN: Jason Dufner in at 5-under, thanks very much.

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