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August 13, 2011

Jason Dufner


KELLY ELBIN: Jason Dufner joining us, in with a round of 2-under par 68 in the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship. Jason is tied for the lead with Jason Dufner at 7-under par. Jason, congratulations on the play today. General comments about sharing the lead going into the final round of the season's final major.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, good position to be in. I thought I played pretty solid today, missed a couple of putts which I'd like to have back, but that's part of the game of golf, and you know, great position going into tomorrow, probably be a little anxious to get out there. Got a good pairing. Brendan has been playing pretty well this year. We're kind of both in the same boat. I think this might be his first major, so that'll be a little interesting, but I think it'll be a good group tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: You said 17 of 18 greens in regulation today. Obviously your iron play pretty strong.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, ball striking has been really good the whole week except for the first nine holes. I think I hit maybe the last seven greens yesterday, eight greens yesterday and then 17 out of 18 today. Kept it relatively in play. I think the couple of fairways I did miss was first cut, so still being able to have good approaches to the greens. I'd say iron play was probably a strength today, driving was second.

Q. This may be something you guys pay absolutely no attention to, but there are five guys on the top of the leaderboard who are Americans. After six straight majors in which an American has not won, what would that mean to you tomorrow if you won obviously, but if you didn't win would you want another American to win?
JASON DUFNER: You know, I don't think it really matters. There's a lot of good players right now. It seems like international players have been playing at a higher level than the Americans. You said six straight majors for internationals, so that kind of shows it.
For me it would be a great situation to win this golf tournament. I've been out here six years trying to win a tournament. I don't know if the players really think about that as much, maybe a little bit in the back of their mind. But you know, those guys have been playing really well. They've done well in Ryder Cups and they've got a lot of young good players. Good players generally play well in the big tournaments.

Q. Do you think you'll have any less or more pressure tomorrow given the fact that a lot of the top 10 guys out there, not a whole lot of major championship experience among them. You're going to be in the same boat feeling that kind of first time final group of a major pressure?
JASON DUFNER: Right, it could be a good thing, might maybe make me a little more relaxed knowing that everybody is kind of in the same boat struggling with those emotions and thoughts and the mentality of trying to win a major. But I just feel like if you're playing good, you should be confident, and obviously I've been playing really well for these three rounds, and that's just kind of a mentality that I have. I don't worry about bad shots or bad scores. You know, I'm just out there trying to do what I've been doing this week, and my game feels really good. So I feel like confidence wise I'm really at a peak right now.

Q. Speaking of confidence, with so many players having struggled with those last few holes, those back-to-back birdies that kind of set the tone, how much do you kind of file that away and how much confidence do you think that's going to give you coming down the stretch tomorrow?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I don't know what those holes are playing as far as average over par, but I think I've been maybe 3-under on them, so I feel pretty confident. All four of those holes set up pretty well for me. I think 15 might play a little bit easier than if it was at 180 because you tend to play a little less aggressive. 16, 17, 18, they all kind of shape right-to-left for me which is a good visual. I've been confident on those holes. I'm sure I've picked up a lot of strokes on the field on those holes playing them 3-under. So that can carry over to tomorrow. Those aren't really -- they're trouble holes, but for me, I'm feeling confident on those holes.
KELLY ELBIN: Jason birdied 15 and 16 today and birdied 17 in his opening round.

Q. You mentioned players struggling with emotions out there. Do you have any emotion out on the course?
JASON DUFNER: Not too many. Not too many. I stay pretty even keel. If you caught me a couple weeks ago at Moline or AT&T, there was some emotion out there. I had a couple temper tantrums but usually I'm pretty good about it, especially if I'm playing good because I know that I'm playing good. Bogeys happen, bad shots happen, three-putts happen. But when you are playing well, you can recover from those. If you're hitting bad shots, then you're probably not going to recover as well.

Q. Are you as calm on the inside as you are on the outside?
JASON DUFNER: Probably not. I wouldn't say that I'm a nervous wreck out there, but this course is pretty stressful. There's a lot of difficult shots. If you slip up, you mis-hit shots or miss your line by a couple yards or even more than that, you're in a really bad spot. You can make doubles and triples very quickly, and there's not really any gimme or easy holes. You have to really focus and be precise this week on every shot. It's pretty similar to Sawgrass to me. There's a lot of risk at Sawgrass, there's a lot of visual, same thing, same type of grass. This week has been a little more stressful on the inside, but for whatever reason I seem not to show it.

Q. Talking to the Auburn fans out there who are following you around, a lot of them didn't know much about you other than you went to Auburn. Can you talk about why you chose to go there and the passion you have for the University and the sports teams?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I wasn't very highly recruited out of high school so I ended up walking on at Auburn, just kind of a chance thing actually. I picked three or four schools to go look at, went down to Auburn, liked it, knew that they had a team that was losing a lot of players, so I felt like I had a chance. So that whole situation was pretty lucky for me and pretty lucky for Auburn golf.
Since I've finished school. I've stayed in the Auburn area for the last 13 years. I've been in Auburn, so I've got a lot of ties there. You know, and there's been a lot of spout out there this week with me and following me, and I know Atlanta is real close. We've got a lot of graduates that just slide up to Atlanta to live or find jobs here. It's been a cool thing, and obviously with the football team doing so well there's a lot of pride out there from last year's football team.

Q. You had the playoff earlier this year and I'm wondering what you learned from that, and secondly, are you at all surprised you're in this position right now?
JASON DUFNER: First part, playoff, you know, I learned that I can be competitive. I think I knew that a little bit before the playoff. Phoenix isn't a tournament that I had played much before, so that kind of surprised me. But I wasn't nervous or anxious. I was in a playoff. It can go either way. Mark played great in the playoff. He ended up stuffing a shot to four feet. What can I do about that other than hit it closer than him, which I didn't.
So it's just, if you're in a playoff situation, you know that you've played good. You know you can be competitive, and so you can draw from that a little bit.
And then what was your second in.

Q. Just are you surprised at all that you're in this position?
JASON DUFNER: Maybe a little bit, coming off I think I missed four cuts coming into this event, but I had a good bit of time off. I've been here since last Friday, so I've been practicing. I was working with my coach, Chuck Cook, since Friday. We've been working on some short game putting things and some long tee shots and ball-striking stuff. So I feel pretty comfortable.
You know, I really play well in the south for whatever reason. I grew up down here. I played college golf down here, so Bermudagrass, I'm really comfortable, and we got to the golf course and I felt like I liked it. I felt like you had to hit fairways, which is one of my stronger suits.
So maybe a little bit surprised to be in the final group of a major, yes, but not surprised to play well on this type of golf course.
KELLY ELBIN: Jason Dufner, tied for the lead after three rounds of the PGA Championship.

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