ARDMORE, Pa. — It’s hard to blame a loss in a golf tournament, one played over four grueling days, on one swing, and Jason Dufner won’t do that. He knows that he made five bogeys in his first nine holes Saturday at the U.S. Open, and he entered Sunday’s final round nine shots out of the lead.
But when he arrived at the 15th tee Sunday at Merion Golf Club, he had the round of the tournament going — five birdies, no bogeys, and a threat to be in the mix. But Merion’s 15th, playing Sunday at 422 yards with out-of-bounds all along the left side, gives Dufner an uneasy feeling.
“It’s a tough tee shot, especially with the wind today,” Dufner said. “The wind is pushing the ball to the bunkers [on the right], where you don’t want to be. You got out-of-bounds off the fairway. . . . Of the last holes for me, that’s probably the toughest.”
Dufner made it the toughest, hooking his drive out-of-bounds, and eventually making a triple-bogey 7. For someone who was out of it, it might not have been calamitous. But it was the only blemish on Dufner’s scorecard. He ended up with a closing 67 to get to 5 over for the Open — just four shots back of Justin Rose’s winning score in a tie for fourth place.
“Unfortunately that front nine yesterday, and one bad swing on 15 today is probably going to end me up a few short,” Dufner said.
For the second straight day, Tiger Woods started his round with a birdie at the first, but it only lead to calamity and irrelevance. Woods made a triple-bogey 8 at No. 2, and it led to a closing 74 that left him 13 over for the Open, his worst performance in relation to par in a major championship as a pro.
“There’s always a lesson to be learned in every tournament, whether you win or lose,” Woods said. “I’ll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong.”
Woods is due to play next at his own tournament, the AT&T National June 27-30 at Congressional Country Club, an event he won last year.
Shawn Stefani made the only hole-in-one of this Open, and the 43rd known ace in tournament history, on the very difficult 17th hole Sunday at Merion, but he did it in unusual fashion. Stefani’s tee shot flew right of the pin onto a mound covered in deep rough, but somehow bounced down the hill and onto the green, where it ran into the cup.
“I didn’t know what to do but jump up and down for joy,” Stefani said, and he kissed the ground for good measure.
Stefani bogeyed 18, but he still shot 69 — a day after an 85 that featured eight bogeys, two doubles and a triple. . . .
Michael Kim, a 19-year-old who plays for Cal, closed with a 76 that left him 10 over for the tournament in a tie for 17th — an impressive performance, but one that left him short of becoming the first amateur to finish in the top 10 at the Open in 42 years.