Jason Dufner bounced back from a poor third round to win the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village by three shots from Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahiri.
Jason Dufner began the third round in the Memorial with a five shot lead after a pair of superb opening 65s. But he struggled through the third round, carding a 77. That disappointing score saw his five shot advantage turned into a four-shot deficit.
But Dufner came out and produced an excellent 68 on Sunday to get the job done. Keeping it together through two rain delays he turned out to be the strongest player at Muirfield Village and he won by three in the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.
“Yesterday was not my best day,” Dufner said of his 77. “But I had to get over it quick. It’s a 72-hole tournament, there’s a lot of things that can happen out there. I knew I was still in the mix.”
Daniel Summerhays took a three-shot lead into the final round but he quickly fell away and his lead had gone within four holes. He struggled to a closing 78 and a tie for 10th.
Dufner played the front nine in level par and then made his move at the start of the back nine. He birdied the 10th and 12th holes and then another gain on the par-5 15th saw him move into the lead.
Rickie Fowler got himself in contention but fell back with bogey at the 14th. Dufner then moved two clear with birdie at the 17th. After Dufner holed a long par putt on the 18th green, Fowler’s chance was gone and the title was secure for Dufner.
“I’m pumped to be in the mix again,” Dufner said. “It’s been a good year so far, but this has made it nice.”
3 Talking points from the Memorial Tournament
1 – This was a fifth PGA Tour title for Dufner. The 40-year-old who won the 2013 USPGA Championship will move to 13th on the FedEx Cup standings. In recent months the American had been struggling with his approach to the game so this victory marks quite a turnaround.
“There’s been times where I’ve kind of gone—fallen in and out of love with golf, to be honest with you, as a professional,” he said. “There’s been a lot of struggles and a lot of setbacks. I didn’t come straight out of college and play the PGA Tour. It took me almost ten years to get out here. Took me another two after that to win and actually get to where I felt comfortable.”
2 – Anirban Lahiri of India played a fine closing round of 65 to end the week tied second. After a poor spell, he’s feeling more positive about his chances of securing a place in the Presidents Cup.
“Obviously, I want to be on the Presidents Cup team. I have unfinished business,” he said with reference to his three losses in the event in 2015.
3 – Jason Dufner is the first player since Nick Faldo at the 1989 Masters to bounce back from a third round 77 and win. Nobody in the Memorial had ever shot a 77 in a single round and won the tournament.
The Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio
Purse: $8,700,000 Par: 72
1 Jason Dufner (USA) 65 65 77 68 275 $1,566,000
T2 Rickie Fowler (USA) 70 66 72 70 278 $765,600
T2 Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 74 70 69 65 278 $765,600
T4 Matt Kuchar (USA) 69 70 67 73 279 $382,800
T4 Justin Thomas (USA) 67 71 69 72 279 $382,800
T6 James Hahn (USA) 74 72 65 69 280 $281,663
T6 Kevin Kisner (USA) 70 69 70 71 280 $281,663
T6 Kyle Stanley (USA) 74 67 71 68 280 $281,663
T6 Bubba Watson (USA) 71 68 68 73 280 $281,663
T10 Graham DeLaet (Can) 73 67 73 68 280 $217,500
T10 Jamie Lovemark (USA) 69 69 70 73 281 $217,500
T10 Daniel Summerhays (USA) 66 69 68 78 281 $217,500
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage