Golf: Jason Dufner rekindles magic to win weather-hit Memorial

Jason Dufner posing with the tournament trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament, on June 4, 2017.
Jason Dufner posing with the tournament trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament, on June 4, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Jason Dufner continued his assault on the weather-hit Memorial Tournament on Sunday, rebounding from a dreadful 77 to close with a four-under 68 and win the PGA Tour event by three strokes.

Dufner clinched the win by saving par on No. 18 with an incredible 30-foot putt from the middle of the green.

"Those 30 footers are a little easier for me than the three footers," Dufner joked after his win.

Dufner's 13-under 275 total gave him his fifth career US PGA Tour victory as he survived two rain delays on Sunday including one that lasted 77 minutes and another which hit while he was playing his final hole.

Dufner, who won the 2013 PGA Championship, shot back-to-back 65s to take a five-stroke lead into Saturday's third round.

But a horrendous four-hole bogey stretch beginning on No.2 was all it took to derail his third round. So he began the fourth round four shots adrift of Daniel Summerhays.

"Obviously yesterday wasn't my best day," Dufner said. "I was pretty disappointed, especially with how well I played the first two days when I thought I was in good control. "I had to get over it quick. It is a 72 hole tournament. I knew I was still in the mix. I just had to get myself together.

"Making the turn at even was good. Then I felt comfortable to get aggressive on back nine."

Dufner, who turned pro in 2000, didn't win his first tournament until his 164th start at the 2012 Zurich Classic.

When he walked off 18, after draining his long putt, the first person to greet him was tournament host and 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.

"To be honest I didn't start playing golf until the late 90s," Dufner said. "I knew about him but didn't get to see him play in his prime."

India's Anirban Lahiri fired a seven-under 65 to finish in a tie for second with American Rickie Fowler, who shot 70. Justin Thomas (72), and Matt Kucher (73) tied for fourth at nine-under 279, four shots adrift of Dufner.

Kyle Stanley (68), James Hahn (69), Bubba Watson (73) and Kevin Kisner (71), were at eight under, and Graham DeLaet (68), Jamie Lovemark (73) and Summerhays (78) tied for 10th at seven under.

Dufner also had to battle Mother Nature. Rain has been an annual tradition at this event since 1976 when Nicklaus founded it. Play was suspended twice in the final round.

First at 4:18 p.m. for 77 minutes and again at 6:48 p.m. - also for 77 minutes - with just a half dozen players on the course. Lahiri, of Bangalore, made a Sunday charge, beginning the day 10 shots behind leader Summerhays.

Eighteen holes later, Lahiri was 10 under after a bogey-free 65. He waited in the clubhouse for more than four hours, until Dufner's decisive 18th-hole putt, in case he was needed for a play-off.