On Tuesday afternoon at the driving range at TPC Sawgrass, Dufner and Ryuji Imada had a casual long-drive contest, which was being tracked with the Track Man golf radar that measures every possible stat you could want, like spin rate, ball speed, club head speed, smash factor, just to name a few. Dufner was absolutely crushing it. He joked he had a case of “beast-itis,” and mockingly flexed like a body-builder. He striped one that recorded a ball speed of 170mph. So if Dufner accidentally hits you with an errant drive, that’s how fast the ball is traveling! Ouch.
I tried to bring out the lighter side, so to speak, of Dufner, while still incorporating the essential golf-y questions. For more than a year, I’ve heard from lots of his Tour buddies that once you get to know him, he’s one of the funniest and wittiest guys out here. I caught a glimpse of it and it would’ve been better on video, but hopefully it translates decently on paper, rather onscreen.
So you have a case of beast-itis?
No, I don’t have anything going. I wish. I’m getting older, but I worked out a lot this off-season — trying to lose some weight and get a little more speed. I picked up about 3 mph, which translates to about eight to 12 yards, so I’ve seen a little bit of progress in that area.
What are your feelings on the 17th hole at Sawgrass?
I don’t mind it. The pin and hole locations can be pretty difficult as far as how big the surface areas, but in general, the green is pretty big and you’re only hitting 9-iron or pitching wedge. I’ve had pretty good success on that hole. Not to jinx myself, but I’ve never hit it in the water on 17. I’ve never even seen a ball go into the water on 17 in my group. So that means probably every ball will go in the water this week. Thanks for bringing that up. [Laughter]
Good news for his first and second round playing partners, Ben Curtis and Kyle Stanley! Or the opposite since we may have jinxed him/them.
Anyway, check out the full interview on Golf.com. I did my best to make the most out of the time it took to walk from the driving range to the clubhouse.
Oh, by the way, Fantasy Golf peeps: Dufner has a very good record on golf courses designed by Mr. Pete Dye — Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), TPC Louisiana (Zurich), Whistling Straits (’10 PGA Championship) and here, etc. Only word of caution: He got married last Saturday and didn’t practice last week, but I think he’ll be just fine. Well, between winning the Zurich Classic and prepping for his wedding, he’s probably exhausted. Then again, the dude has a serious case of beast-itis, so who knows. I’m most curious if he keeps his streak alive on No. 17.
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)