Press Conference - Sunday, January 24, 2016
DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome our 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Jason Dufner. Congratulations on your fourth career PGA TOUR title. I know you were certainly trending in the right direction with your past couple of finishes and I imagine your second shot at 17 today is one that certainly is going to be asked about, so why don't we just pick it up with the week in general and we'll get around to that.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, the week is always a good week here in the Palm Desert area. The guys love coming here, we usually get great conditions to play. Great weather. Which we had this week. So we're always excited to come hear and play. Usually low scores, so you can work on your scoring clubs and get comfortable shooting some low scores. So we're always excited to be here.
17, probably hit one of the worst shots I've hit all week. It's a tough hole. It's a little bit intimidating. Today the wind was I think in a tougher spot, it seemed to be going a little right-to-left with some help with a right pin. So you got to take on some gamble. I tried to hit it in the middle of the fairway or in the middle of the green and hold one up. And I kind of pulled it a little bit. Got a great break, ball was sitting up, kind of looked like something we might see at the Open Championship where you're on some hard pan. There was one rock that was maybe questionable to be in the way, but it's a shot that I've hit some, not in the hazard, but something similar, you kind of hit that low little spinning one with some check on it. To be honest, I kind of thought it might have gone in. It hit the pin pretty hard right in the middle.
So that was definitely a turning point for me. If that ball's in the water I'm probably looking at 4, at best, maybe 5. And then probably not sitting here talking to you guys. So, I'm glad that the luck has turned a little bit for me this week and come my direction.
DOUG MILNE: All right. Questions?
Q. When you hit, when you were on the tee and you knew the ball was down there, did you assume you had no shot or were you surprised when you got down there and found out you did have a shot?
JASON DUFNER: I thought I was in the water. I was preparing mentally to hit my wedge shot, try to hit a good wedge shot in there. And be one back need to go birdie 18 to get in the playoff. The rules officials told me that it was up, maybe I wanted to look at it, possibly to play it.
So I walked over and it looked like it was a pretty good spot. I didn't know, when they tell you that, you're like, man, do I have to negotiate a bunch of rocks or what do I need to do. But it was pretty clean. It was pretty lucky. The angle that I needed to go on, back swing was pretty clean. I could get a stance. So there was a lot of factors right there that were fortunate for me to be able to play that shot.
Q. Was there a question about what club you might use?
JASON DUFNER: No. Like I said, it looked very similar to some things I've been doing at the Open Championship in the past when you get on that hard pan. Very limited grass, if there was any over there. I wasn't sure what the surface was going to be like when I went down after it, but I was committed to trying the shot. We worked on that type of shot from time to time because you need it at the Open Championship. So I was pretty comfortable.
Q. How do you compare this 17th island to Sawgrass and it's interesting that at Sawgrass if you kind of hit a shot that goes through there, you're in the water.
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, definitely.
Q. So, you've been talking about a little bit, but feel fortunate the rocks are there? You go on that tee and you look like, oh, my God, all these rocks, but ultimately this one helped.
JASON DUFNER: I think this one is tougher because it's an elevated tee box. So the ball is in the air a lot longer. When I hit that shot it was left of where I wanted to, but it seemed to stay up there a really long time. And it flew a long way, for the club that I hit. So I think it's tougher to gauge, especially when it's a little bit breezy we had a little bit of wind today so I think it's a tougher hole than 17 at Sawgrass. But, yeah, you can get a little break with the rocks. It looks a little bit different.
I've never had an issue at Sawgrass. I never hit a ball in the water at Sawgrass on 17. Jinx. But I never have seen -- how about this. I've never seen a ball in the water on 17. Neither me or anybody I've ever played with. I don't know how many years I played, has ever hit a ball in the water on 17.
Q. What club did you use today?
JASON DUFNER: Today I hit an 8-iron. I was trying to hold it into that right-to-left wind. I pulled it and got a good break and made par. Moving on. Next hole.
Q. Do you try that shot on 17 on Thursday or Friday or is that only, I'm going to take the chance because it's Sunday?
JASON DUFNER: No, it was pretty clean. It was pretty easy. I don't want to make it sound like it was your basic pitch and run, but when I got over there, the ball was sitting pretty clean, there weren't any rocks in the way, it's something that I felt pretty comfortable with. That type of shot. Because I practiced it some. Especially over for The Open Championship. The only thing I wasn't sure about was what the surface was like, because I hadn't hit any out of that hazard this week. But it came out pretty clean.
Sometimes you try to hit it a little bit harder than you need to and you can go over on the other end. So I was a little conscious of that. I was trying to make sure that I just got it on the green and if I pulled it off, great. If not, bogey, and I can still birdie the last to get in the playoff.
Q. And then 18, the first playoff hole, what was the lie like on the approach? Was there any question about laying up?
JASON DUFNER: No, I looked at it, I wanted to hit 6- iron the. About 180 to the front there. But it was probably a shot I pull off maybe two out of 10 times or three out of 10 times. The other seven or eight times it probably hits the lip or goes in the with a water. So I thought with about it, I thought about it, I wanted to, but then at the end of the day I felt like my wedges have been good, I'm going to play the percentages. If he makes birdie, then he deserves to win and I'll try and get it up-and-down from wherever I was -- I think I had 107 yards -- try to get it up-and-down there and extend it.
Q. As you get more into winning this tournament, there's a lot of great names that have won here in the past. What's it like? Not too often do you win a tournament and the President of the United States is there to hand you the trophy.
JASON DUFNER: That's pretty neat. We got a lot of great things out here on the PGA TOUR like that. We meet fantastic people. We meet influential people. We get -- that's great. I think one of the best things about playing the PGA TOUR is the history of the TOUR, the history of the events. You put your name on a trophy with some of the greats. I've been fortunate to win a Major, that's one of my favorite things is looking at the names on that trophy and see all these great guys that have won this tournament. I also have some good friends that have won this event, Pat Perez and Charley Hoffman, so it's great to join them and be part of the CareerBuilder I guess it is now.
Q. You can say Hope?
JASON DUFNER: Past champion. Or Hope Classic past champion list. Hopefully, I'll get a brick out there in the lobby they got.
Q. Can you talk about the emotions in going, the emotional swing in one hole, going from hitting a shot you thought was going into the water to hitting a ball out of the rocks and almost holing out?
JASON DUFNER: To be honest, when I got over there and saw it, I was like, man, this is a great break I'm going to take advantage of it. This is what I need. I need this right now. I need this break to happen. I'm confident with what I can do with this shot and I need to make this happen and get a par and I was thinking birdie on the last hole.
I hit a great drive and pretty reasonable approach and thought I kind of had one of those nice putts you can just kind of drip down there and it will fall in the edge. So, I was happy to take advantage of those, of that opportunity. I felt great. I try not to get too emotional out there, to be honest with you.
Q. How do you compare being or leading on the back nine this time trying to end a drought a little bit compared to the last couple times you were in contention a few years ago?
JASON DUFNER: Every time I won a tournament or I felt like I had a chance to win a tournament I've been pretty focused and pretty relaxed. I felt pretty good today. I got off to a rough start. I made bad decision on 2 with a shot that I tried to hit, probably being a little too aggressive for that situation.
Another bad decision on 8 with where I played from. I should have been in that bunker on the par-5. Then I missed a pretty easy up-and-down on 5 also. So I threw away two or three shots on the front nine and I was a little frustrated with that, but I felt like I could get going on the back nine. And then I birdied the first three holes. I felt like I played pretty good on the back nine. So I felt like I played pretty good today. It's a tough golf course. I know I shot 65 the first day that I played it, but those rounds are few and far between on that golf course. I know that's what David shot today and he put a fantastic round together to make a run at this thing.
Q. Kind of gets to my question, I don't know that you would have thought if you were 1-over through nine holes you would still have had the lead and yet you did. Or at least a share of it. Was there a frustration level starting to build out there that can happen at this tournament or were you just not trying to think about that?
JASON DUFNER: I wasn't frustrated, I just felt like I wanted to take advantage of some opportunities on the back nine. I looked on the leaderboard, shot 1-over, I was tied for the lead. That's where you want to be going to the back nine at every tournament you play. It would be nice to be up four or five, but if you're tied for the lead, you got a chance to win. And I got off to a great start on the back, those three birdies there, and that got me going a little bit and then David started making a lot of birdies on that back nine. So I think the 2-putt on 16 was huge. That was from about 90 feet. And then getting a good break there on 17.
Q. The putt on the first playoff hole to save par, that's a pretty big putt. Is that evidence or anything from the rest of the week that kind of helped you come through in that situation how proud are you of yourself for that?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, I think just the hard work I put in. I like those situation putts. It's kind of like what we see in the Presidents Cup in match play. Because if I miss it, there's no next putt, it doesn't really matter. So I got real aggressive with my read, got real aggressive with my stroke, and I committed to it. I'm committed to the routine that I have before I hit putts, so it felt good to know that some of that work that I've been doing paid off in that type of situation. But I like those situations when there's no, that's the end game right there. You either make it or you miss it. There's no, nothing else. So I usually do pretty good in those situations.
Q. How hard did you work on your putting in the off season and where, why do you think if you feel like you've improved a lot, how did that come about?
JASON DUFNER: I worked pretty hard. We worked really hard on the routine of it. I worked really hard on being consistent with the pace of my stroke. And I worked with not over thinking things. If you noticed at all or if you see anything, my routine's pretty quick. I take a look at it, hey, this is what I kind of think it's doing, then I just run with it, I go. I try to let what I see and how my body reacts to that take over and do it. I think I got very analytical with my putting, lost a lot of my feel, and as a result of it lost a lot of my confidence. So, we worked hard on it, the biggest thing is the routine and the pace, trying to keep the pace consistent. I think it held up pretty good. I hit some pretty good clutch putts there like on 11, 10, 11, 12. I made a nice par on 14. One on 15 wasn't very good. But I made some nice putts today. The one in the playoff really good.
Q. Having won a Major, what, is there, from a confidence standpoint, within knowing what you can do and now that you're healthy again and to start a year like this, talk about that starting a year being able to do what you did?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah, that's another thing I worked a lot on. Trying to be confident again. Feeling like I'm a good player. When you play bad out here and you don't have the results you want and you don't meet expectations whether yours or other people's, you get down. It's tough out here.
So I wanted to really dedicate myself to believing that I'm a great player again. And I don't know what that means. Does that mean it's top-50 in the world, top-5 in the world, best player in the world? I don't know. But I'm dedicated to it, I want to believe in it, and be confident again. I started seeing some signs of that at the end of last year when I started playing. Me and Brandt won the Shark Shoot-out. That was really good. And I played really good last week. I was really close to -- I think I led the field in birdies last week. So I've been playing some good golf and looking forward to playing some more good golf the rest of the year.
Q. One more question about the shot on 17, how close were you to the rocks and how much did that factor into the shot itself?
JASON DUFNER: Yeah there was like a bare patch, I don't know, about the size of that trash can top there was a bare patch and there was one rock that was just kind of, if the ball would have been two inches towards the tee, I would have been blocked out. And then the angle I was on, it was perfect. There wasn't really, that edge of the rock was kind of sticking out if I went kind of outside and in. And then I was able to stand. Sometimes you get there and you don't have a stance. I was standing on a couple rocks, but I had a stance. So it was probably like one in like 50 million that that ball ends up there.
But I'll take it. I'll take it. Some guy won the Powerball a couple weeks ago, he'll take it, right?
Q. Some players have who have won a Major find that it's difficult after that because pressure or maybe people have outsized expectations of that player, after he wins a Major. How did you deal with that after you did win it?
JASON DUFNER: I don't really have any expectations of how I'm going to play or where I should play or where I should be or what tournaments I should be playing. I just, I've always been under the thought process that if you work hard and you do the right thing, good golf will come. A lot of guys deal with that. I dealt with many different things. I had some injuries, I had some personal stuff that set me back, but I never felt like I was, you know, that far off from playing great.
It's such a fine line out here, it's so easy to get bogged down by whoever it is saying that you should be playing at this certain level. And then you start focusing on things that aren't really helping you play how you want to play. So, it's tough. It's hard to win out here. No matter who you are. I know a lot of us, a lot of guys out here make it look easy, but it's not easy to win. Definitely.
Q. Winning again, is it more relief that you've done it again, is it excitement about with where your game's headed what's the emotion?
JASON DUFNER: I would say excitement about where my game's headed. I'm excited for this year, I'm excited to accomplish one of my goals this early in the year, I'm excited to keep playing well. I feel like I'm doing some really good stuff. Usually when you win tournaments you get really confident and that kind of breeds some more winning or some more chances to win. Which has kind of been the case for me.
So I'm excited about it. I feel it's the best I've ever felt health-wise probably in the last four or five years, so hopefully I can stick to my schedule that I've set out and play a lot of golf this year and get back to that TOUR Championship and be a part that have Ryder Cup team.
DOUG MILNE: All right. Thank you, Jason congratulations.
JASON DUFNER: Thank you.