Jason Dufner will be scratching his head for a long time after the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
Going off in the final group, the reigning PGA Championship winner could not build off a birdie on the first hole. He ended the day with four bogeys and a double bogey and only added one more birdie in the next 17 holes.
It was a disastrous round of 76 for Dufner and one the Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School graduate could have easily avoided. He left three par putts short from inside six feet and overshot the green twice on par-3s. It was simple mistakes that helped him tumble from a tie for second into a tie for ninth, six shots behind the winner.
The frustration came to a head on No. 12 when some noise in the background disturbed his drive.
After his ball came to rest in a fairway bunker, Dufner slammed his club into the tee, sending it flying, before flinging the club back to his caddie and spewing some foul language. He ended up making par on the hole, but the damage was already done. Dufner bogeyed the next two holes, definitively taking him out of contention.
NO BEGINNER’S LUCK
The three newcomers to the World Golf Championships needed some time to adjust.
Roberto Castro, Brendon de Jonge and Dawie van der Walt combined to shoot 50-over-par at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in their first appearance in a WGC event. But the trio lost just 11 strokes over the weekend. Between the three of them there was only one below-par round — van der Walt’s 1-under 71 on Saturday — but de Jonge did shoot even par Sunday.
Despite the poor results, playing in the tournament was an enjoyable experience for all of them, and van der Walt believes he could take something back to the European Tour, where he plays most of his golf.
“It’s enjoyable; it’s just hard,” van der Walt said. “It’s a long week, a bit of a grind. I feel like I learned something.
“I’ll take back the positive, which there’s not many of it, but it was good fun playing it.”
Van der Walt added that he sensed there was definitely a different atmosphere from the normal events on the PGA or European Tour.
“Of course, [there’s a different vibe]; this is one of the biggest events,” the South African said. “To see this many people come out and support, it’s always fun.”
The low round of the day belonged to Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, who fired a 6-under 66 to move into the top third of the field.
He began the day at 10-over for the tournament and in a tie for 51st, but he took advantage of the par-5s, playing them in 3-under en route to six birdies on no bogeys. He had matching 33s on each nine, finding nine of 14 fairways and hitting 14 of 18 greens during his round, both highs for the week.
Blixt really made up ground on the greens, gaining more than 2.3 strokes putting over the rest of the field. He only had 27 putts, draining 17 of 19 attempts inside 15 feet.
When Thongchai Jaidee approached the 10th tee, he was even for the day but 5-over for the tournament.
A top-10 finish seemed like a dream, but it was one that was realized Sunday. The Thailand player had four birdies on the back nine to creep up the leaderboard and finish in a tie for sixth, his first top 10 in the tournament since it moved to Doral in 2007.
Charl Schwartzel also found some good vibes on the back nine Sunday.
The South African one-upped Jaidee and had five birdies and no bogeys on the back nine to finish in a tie for ninth. He finished at 2-over for the tournament after being as high as 8-over during his round.