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January 16, 2013

Jason Dufner


PAUL SYMES:テつ Many thanks for joining us, welcome to Abu Dhabi.テつ What are your first impressions of the place and the golf course?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, today was the first time on all 18 of the holes.テつ Played pretty tough today.テつ The wind, obviously, is up.テつ The fairways seem to be mown in a little bit tighter.テつ Rough is definitely up.
So going to be a challenging test, especially if the wind stays up through the week.テつ Hopefully it will die down for us a little bit and make it a little bit more scorable out there.
PAUL SYMES:テつ You've played in Perth last year on The European Tour, playing here this week, and I believe in Qatar, as well, next week.テつ What appeals to you about challenging yourself and competing outside the States?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, you know, growing up, I've seen a lot of guys come over and play different tours, compete all around the world.テつ Just felt like a lot of those guys were kind of the upper echelon of players and felt like maybe that was something I would want to do.
Have had the opportunity here the last couple of years with my play in the U.S. to kind of bring my schedule up later in the season and early part of this season.
So it's been nice to have some exemptions and have some tournaments want me to come and play their events.テつ It's just I think a good thing to kind of compete around the world and see where you stack up and maybe show the world what type of golf game you have where they might not be able to see you in person.
We're pretty spoiled in the U.S.テつ We have kind of just play in one area and people are pretty focused on the US PGA TOUR, but there's a lot of other tours and a lot of other great events around the world that are going on.
PAUL SYMES:テつ So would you like to see more of your fellow Americans coming out and playing on The European Tour?
JASON DUFNER:テつ You know, I think it's up to the individual.テつ I can understand both sides of that argument.テつ Guys get comfortable and they want to stay close to their family.テつ Obviously travelling over here can be difficult for some.
I think it makes you a little bit better player to come over here and experience golf in different places and compete against different players, different golf courses and I think it's just overall good for the game.
Any time you can have guys that are Top‑50 in the world playing in Abu Dhabi or next week in Qatar, they don't get that opportunity but once a year.テつ So to increase the field strength so to speak, I think it's a great thing for the game of golf.

Q.テつ Are you staying in the city or out on the island?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Out at the St.Regis.

Q.テつ So have you come into the golf course by the side where they have all the billboards set up along the road?
JASON DUFNER:テつ No, I haven't.テつ Just been going Yas Island around the airport.

Q.テつ There's a series of billboards from the Abu Dhabi side driving in that says, "Return of the Giants" and it's Ernie and Tiger, Rory‑‑テつ who else‑‑ Rory‑‑
JASON DUFNER:テつ How can you forget get him (laughter).

Q.テつ I forget everything.テつ Anyway, you've got a billboard, too.テつ So I was just wondering whether you think of yourself as being in that ilk yet, or whether that kind of causes you to smirk or cringe, or what your reaction is when you're arrayed there in this stack of potentially Hall of Famers?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, it's pretty neat.テつ Obviously that's starting to get more common with those type of things.
When I went to Perth early in the year, I was one of the couple players that they kind of headlined for that event, and same thing here.テつ So it's neat to be those little kind of added‑on things, to be on the cover of a programme or to be on billboards.テつ Obviously not something I'm used to but starting to get used to it.テつ Don't mind it.テつ That means that you're playing pretty well and that people are taking notice of your game.
It's good for everybody.テつ It's good for me.テつ It's good for my sponsors.テつ It gets my name out there and it gets the folks here in Abu Dhabi, they might see me on a billboard and wonder who Jason Dufner is and do a little bit of research.テつ So I think it's pretty neat.

Q.テつ From college walk‑on to show pony.テつ That's pretty good.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, not bad.テつ Doing all right right now.

Q.テつ Changing your schedule and adding these two events, does that cause you to make any other changes going further?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Not really.テつ I generally play Sony and Humana.テつ This year I started with Hyundai and going to play these two over here.
So losing one event in the States.テつ Might add something in the summer possibly but nothing too special.テつ The schedule will be pretty much the same as it was last year.

Q.テつ Paul McGinley was saying last night just when he got a pointed European Ryder Cup Captain that he played a few holes with you yesterday and he had you laughing the amount of times his phone kept ringing.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah.テつ I had known that he was in the discussion for being The Ryder Cup Captain.テつ We didn't really have a conversation about that.テつ I didn't want to, you know, pry into it too much.
But his phone was going off a good bit and I didn't know if it was good news or bad news.テつ (Laughter) So we just kept playing nine holes and I found out later in the evening that he was selected.

Q.テつ I was going to ask you, your reaction to that, how well do you know Paul, and I'm sure you'll be relishing the opportunity of being on Tom Watson's side to go up against Paul at Gleneagles.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, definitely.テつ I don't know Paul very well.テつ It's the first time I actually played with him yesterday.テつ I had seen him at some events, seen him at The Ryder Cup this year.テつ So I'm familiar with the name, not familiar with the person.
The second part of that, obviously I would love to be part of a Ryder Cup Team again here in 2014.テつ It's going to be a unique experience with Tom Watson being the captain, playing in Scotland.テつ He's kind of an adopted son over there I guess, so to speak, so I think we'll be excited to try and get back into that competition and win the Cup back.

Q.テつ Can you see how much a big deal it is in Europe, Ryder Cup Captain, and also The Ryder Cup itself?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, definitely.テつ I think it's a big deal on both sides, from players on the United States Team that I've talked to, they have always said it's a lot tougher going over there and playing.テつ You're dealing with the fans and kind of a home team atmosphere for that side.
So I think it's a big deal to everybody and the United States gets pretty pumped up for it. テつObviously Europe gets pumped up for it.テつ And Europe has a little bit more bragging rights right now.テつ They have been whipping us pretty good in that competitionテつ for a good number of years now.
So it definitely is a big, big event in golf, and I think everybody that's either played on them or has been close to playing on them on both sides, wants to be part of those teams.

Q.テつ Considering the amount of tournaments you're now playing outside the U.S., is there any thought of taking up a membership on The European Tour?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, I've discussed it a little bit.テつ We thought about possibly doing it this year.テつ I'm not really sure how much I'm going to be playing later in the year, quarter four, after the Playoffs.テつ So that's kind of the reason why I didn't do it this year.
But it could be a possibility in the future, especially with the Majors and the World Golf Championships counting as events towards those, and throw in a couple three or four that would also count.テつ It may be a possibility in the future but not this year.

Q.テつ The choice of Tom Watson seems inspired.テつ You couldn't get a greater figurehead to lead an American Team to Scotland.テつ Were you surprised that Europe didn't respond to that by going for a big name figurehead captain themselves, and were you surprised by the selection of Paul McGinley?テつ And what does that say about him and the confidence of European golf?テつ How did it strike you?
JASON DUFNER:テつ You know, it didn't really strike me any way to be honest.テつ I think they just went through their selection process and had a couple candidates.テつ It seems like every year on either side, there's three or four guys that could be chosen and they all possibly deserve to be the captain.
So I know that's a very hard decision.テつ Tom Watson, obviously, is a big name in American golf, and I think he's the last captain to win on foreign soil.テつ So you know, we went a little different route this year with it.テつ I think we surprised some people with it.
But I think every time they have a decision to make, it's a tough decision, because there's always worthy candidates for that captaincy.

Q.テつ They pick the captains in different fashions on both sides:テつ Some mysterious PGA of America guys get together and that cast changes depending on who the president is that year.テつ Would you like to see a similar system ensconced in the U.S. where the players might actually have some input into that?テつ Pretty clearly, McGinley was elected by a lot of people Tweeting and making strong statements, Rory, the Poulter, etc.テつ They had a direct say in who became their boss, and you guys have virtually zero.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, I think that would be nice from a players' perspective.テつ We are playing in the event.テつ I think we're familiar with a lot of the guys that could be up for a nomination for being captains.
I think as players, and if you ask most guys, they would want to be involved in that process a little bit more I think.テつ But it's set up a little bit different, and like you said this year with Europe, they had a lot of influence from the players, and the players kind of, so to speak, spoke, and pushed for Paul to be the captain.

Q.テつ Campaigned for him.
JASON DUFNER:テつ So I think that speaks volumes for how the team is going to come together for them. テつI think it would be nice to have a little bit more input with the selection of that.

Q.テつ Because to them it's going to seem like, hey, he's our guy, we helped pick him‑‑ not saying Watson is a bad pick by any stretch of the imagination, but you had zero to do with the process of him being placed there.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, the thing that's tough, also, is who is to say any of these guys that would be on the team that are helping select the captain.テつ It's a tough decision, like I said, for whoever is making it, because there always seems to be guys that are worthy candidates for it.
As players, I think it's part of our job to rally behind The PGA of America and rally behind whoever they select as captain and support that decision.

Q.テつ After the season you had last year, so successful, how do you go into the off‑season?テつ Did you change your mind‑set, or as far as preparing for the new year, any changes you might make to your swing or improvements?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, I didn't have much of an off‑season.テつ Had a couple weeks off after The Ryder Cup; went overseas, played; had ten days off; played two more weeks, and ten days off and then was back in Hawai'i.テつ Not much of an off‑season.
Been working really hard on my game since the World Challenge event in California.テつ Just trying to be consistent with my practise, working on the same things basically I've been working on just trying to work on a couple mental things, just trying to stay patient.
I think that's the biggest thing for us out there. テつSeems when patience levels are good and you're confident, your game seems to pick up a little bit.
So, no big changes.テつ I think a lot of it, especially for guys that are in the Top‑50, it becomes kind of a mental challenge more than anything.

Q.テつ Along the same lines of Steve's question, can you imagine yourself being vocal for one particular Ryder Cup candidate to be a captain over another, like Rory was and some other players were for Paul?
JASON DUFNER:テつ That's not really in my nature or my style.テつ I'm kind of a fall‑in‑line type of guy.テつ And to be honest with you, I don't know a lot of the guys that would be up on a personal level or even from a competitive level that would be up for the nomination.
People have thrown around Larry Nelson and Tom Watson.テつ You know, I had never really got to play with those guys.テつ David Toms I'm a little bit familiar with, looking into the future, possibly Fred Couples, guys like, that Phil Mickelson, I would have more input and knowledge.
I think it's definitely a hard decision and I think maybe some players' input would be a good way to go I think in the future.

Q.テつ Doesn't it say something about a 23‑year‑old golfer, that he would have the courage or the gumption to stand up and really nail his colours to the mast like that?テつ Is it kind of surprising.
JASON DUFNER:テつ That's what happens when you're No. 1 in the world.テつ Pretty easy.テつ (Laughter).

Q.テつ But at age 23?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Age is just a number.テつ He's No. 1 in the world.テつ You know, you've got a lot of clout when you're No. 1 in the world.テつ People kind of take notice of what you're saying.

Q.テつ Does that in a way say why he's No. 1 in the world almost; that he has that sort of personality?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Possibly.テつ Yeah, definitely.テつ There's definitely characteristics and traits of people that are successful, and kind of putting your opinion out there and sticking to it is definitely one of those things that a lot of successful people have.

Q.テつ Take off The Ryder Cup for a quick second‑‑
JASON DUFNER:テつ Be nice.テつ We're not playing for like 18 months or 19 months.

Q.テつ You should work on The European Tour; every day.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Might not even be playing golf by then.テつ (Laughter).

Q.テつ What was I going to ask you ... apart from Augusta this year, the three Major venues, what's your experience?テつ And will you do anything different in preparation if you have not played any of those venues?
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, I have not played Merion.テつ I've not played Muirfield.テつ I played the U.S. Amateur in '98 at OakHill, so a little bit familiar with OakHill.
My routine will stay the same.テつ I always go the week before, usually Tuesday or Wednesday before, and do a lot of practise and preparation on the golf course.テつ I think that gives me theテつ chance to be successful that week, whether even if it's at Augusta, I'll still go early.
Pretty excited about the rotation this year.テつ Augusta is one of my favourite golf courses.テつ Merion has got so much history; and being that I followed Ben Hogan's career a good bit and the things he did there, that course intrigues me a good bit.
Muirfield I don't know much about, and then OakHill is actually one of my favourite golf courses, too.テつ So I'm excited about the rotation.テつ I won't do much different, I will go early and practise and play and learn the golf course asテつ I can.

Q.テつ Last year was your first year in Ryder Cup, just wonder what you learned about yourself playing in that exotic company and that level of combat.
JASON DUFNER:テつ Yeah, I think to be part of that team is just a great experience.テつ There's only 12 guys on the team, and it's kind of figured out over a two‑year period, and it's really hard to make that team.
Just to make the team, I was really proud of myself and confident with where I was at in the game of golf.テつ And then going through the matches and playing the matches, just realising how confident I was and how calm I was, I thought I would be a lot more nervous and anxious about playing.テつ But I think something with the team environment and having a teammate, especially in those early matches, really helped me relax and really helped me play.
You know, it was a great, great experience, even though that we were on the losing end of it.テつ I can take a lot of great things away from it and learn from some of the things that didn't go quite as well, I think both individually and from a team aspect.

Q.テつ Were you also surprised that you did a couple of first pumps during The Ryder Cup?
JASON DUFNER:テつ It's hard not to in that environmentテつ (laughter).
Usually when I'm out playing, there's only maybe 20 or 25 people watching me, and my wife.テつ When you've got, I'm not sure how many people are on each hole, but the holes are just packed with people.テつ Whether they are rooting for Europe, whether they are rooting for the United States, the atmosphere is unbelievable.テつ I've never experienced anything like that in golf.
So it just kind of takes over and the moment kind of gets inside your body I guess.テつ And a couple fist pumps here and there were probably much needed after all of the calm demeanor I've had over the years out here.
PAUL SYMES:テつ Thanks very much, Jason, have a great week.

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