Dufner refocuses on PGA Tour after major near-miss
GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - Just four days after narrowly failing to win a first major title, little-known American Jason Dufner returns to the 'normality' of the PGA Tour at this week's Wyndham Championship.
The 34-year-old journeyman squandered a five-stroke lead with three holes to play at the PGA Championship before losing in a playoff but all that is now behind him.
"Maybe some guys would feel like it was a tragedy, but I don't really look at it that way," Dufner told reporters of his defeat by compatriot Keegan Bradley after three extra holes.
"I'm disappointed with not being able to finish that tournament off with a 'W' (win), but I'm a professional golfer and I'm going to continue to be a professional golfer.
"There are many more events to play in on this Tour, on any tour. It doesn't really matter to me. I've been a golfer for 10 years, and I'm going to continue to be a golfer."
Dufner, who has yet to win a PGA Tour title since making his debut on the circuit in 2001, preferred to dwell on all the positives from last week while preparing for Thursday's opening round at Sedgefield Country Club.
"I'm in good shape as far as the game of golf goes," said the lank-haired American, whose career highlights include two wins on the second-tier Nationwide Tour.
"I'm pretty confident with my golf game right now after last week and I'm pretty comfortable on this golf course so I think it'll be a good stepping-stone for me."
This week's event has attracted a strong field as it is the last stop in the regular season before the PGA Tour's lucrative end-of-season finale gets under way next week.
Only the top 125 players after this week qualify for the first of the four FedExCup playoffs, the August 25-28 Barclays Classic, and several big names are on the outside looking in.
Former world number one Ernie Els lies 126th in the FedExCup standings with Tiger Woods (129th), Padraig Harrington (130th), Louis Oosthuizen (145th), Paul Casey (147th) and Angel Cabrera (150th).
Of those, however, only South African Els, Irishman Harrington, Briton Casey and Argentine Cabrera are competing this week.
"The goal is to focus on getting myself in contention, focus on trying to win this tournament and that will easily look after the FedExCup," triple major champion Harrington said after competing in Wednesday's pro-am competition.
"Obviously the FedExCup comes into my mind if I am struggling to make the cut or I just make the cut and I need a decent weekend. But if I play well and get some good scores in the bag, it's not going to be an issue at all."
Harrington and his family had initially planned to take a holiday in the Bahamas this week but that was canceled after the Irishman's wife Caroline decided he should compete.
"It wasn't a decision I was going to make and tell the family we're not going," Harrington said. "But it was a decision my wife was happy to make on my behalf and say, 'I think you should get up there and qualify'.
"We only had to tell the seven-year-old we were changing the plans. For the three-year-old, one swimming pool is the same as the next to him," Harrington added with a broad grin.
Arjun Atwal, who became the first player from India to triumph on the PGA Tour at last year's Wyndham Championship, is back this week to defend his title.
Like Harrington, Atwal also needs a good week to book his place in the FedExCup playoffs as he lies precariously close to the cut-off at 120th.
(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)