Instead of celebrating, the huge Auburn fan was on the Plains Monday to check out Gene Chizik's Tigers on the practice field. A frequent visitor the last few years at practices, Dufner made a stop to see how the team was coming along before heading back on the road Tuesday. Playing in this weekend's Wyndham Championships in Greensboro, N.C., Dufner is hoping to build on last week's fantastic finish as he heads into the stretch run of the tour season.
"It was a pretty good stepping stone for me," Dufner said. "It was probably my eighth or ninth major championship. I've had some times when I've been up near the lead in the U.S. Open and I made the cut at The Masters, but to be in the Top 10 and have a realistic chance to win the thing towards the end there is a pretty bid deal. Hopefully that will breed some confidence in myself and my game and carry over into the playoffs this year."
Dufner had high hopes for this season after exploding onto the scene last year with a huge season on the course. Finishing 11th in the Fed Ex Cup points standings, Dufner won 2.1 million dollars and had six top-10 finishes on tour. Not only did the year put him in good position with full status for 2010, it changed the way his season played out. That has been something he said it has taken him some time to get used to.
Trying to get his foot in the door the last few years, Dufner has been forced to play in some smaller tournaments and even tournaments that are held opposite major championships to try to earn enough money to keep his card. Following his big 2009 that was no longer a problem. Instead Dufner had to adjust his schedule around the four major championships for the first time, something he admits hasn't been easy.
"This year probably hasn't gone quite as well but I have to look at the fact that it has been kind of a new experience for me as far as scheduling and touring goes," Dufner said. "I'm playing in a lot different tournaments. I've never really played the majors and scheduling around them has been different. Playing in the pro-ams every week has been different for me. There has been a lot of adjustment and a learning curve for me just getting comfortable with what I'm doing.
"I'm happy with where my game is at. I'm pretty happy with how my game has been all year. If I could just putt a little better every day I would have higher finishes. I think this could be a stepping stone for the rest of the year with the playoffs coming up in the couple of weeks."
Currently 62nd in the Fed Ex Cup standings with 583 points, Dufner is in solid position to make a run at another strong season this year as well. The Top 125 in the standings earn a spot in the first leg of the season ending tournament, The Barclays. After that the field is cut to the Top 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Another 30 players are cut for the BMW Championship with the final tournament the Tour Championship featuring the Top 30 golfers in the standings.
For Dufner to make it back to the Tour Championship and earn a spot among the top golfers in the world once again, he'll have to handle the pressure associated with playing alongside the biggest names in the golf world. He said for him it's something he's becoming better at with every passing round and he's looking forward to seeing how he stacks up again this year.
"I'm starting to get more and more accustomed to playing with some of the better players in the world," Dufner said. "I have been fortunate to play a lot of events this year and last year with some of the better players and see how I stack up. I think that's the biggest key is just getting more comfortable in bigger events and bigger environments playing with better players."