Jason’s joy: Dufner outduels Ernie Els in Big Easy for first victory
Avondale, LA, United States (AHN Sports) – Jason Dufner had his hands full Sunday in New Orleans as he tried to win the Zurich Classic.
First, he was locked in a two-man duel with Hall of Famer Ernie Els, the man called the Big Easy, playing great golf in the Big Easy. Second, whatever was on Dufner’s mind, he has a wedding on tap next Saturday.
Dufner came through for the first time in his career on the second playoff hole with Els, two-putting from 50 feet for birdie to claim his first PGA Tour title. The two players finished the regulation 72 holes in 19-under par after pulling away from the rest of the field.
Both parred the 18th on the first go-round, then Dufner hit a great drive, hit the green in two to set up his winning birdie. Els stumbled when his drive found a fairway bunker and he had to layup to 143 yards then hit his third on the fringe, 14 feet. He missed and Dufner tapped in for the win.
“Ernie put up a good number,” Dufner said of Els’ closing 67. He answered with a 70 that saw him birdie the 10th then make a number of nervous par saves coming in, including a 40-foot par-saving putt at the 16th after his drive found the water. “It’s been tough getting this first win,” Dufner acknowledged. “It’s a little big of a monkey off my back.”
Els had a great chance to win the tournament on the first sudden-death hole. From the front bunker, his third shot stopped just five feet from the hole but he missed the birdie putt. Dufner three-putted from 70 feet for par.
Luke Donald closed with a 67 and finished solo third at 17-under par and regained the world’s No. 1 ranking.
Ryan Palmer and Graham DeLaet tied for fourth at 16-under par followed by Steve Stricker at 15-under.