JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - Happily, life soon returned to the mundane for Jason Dufner following his PGA Championship triumph 10 days ago at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
“As far as me personally, nothing’s changed,” Dufner told reporters at Liberty National on the eve of Thursday’s first round of The Barclays, the opening event of the FedExCup playoffs.
“I still took the trash out on Tuesday morning and we actually got a new puppy, so I was up at three in the morning every night taking him out to the bathroom, and still going to my favorite breakfast spot in town,” dead-pan Dufner said.
“So not too much has changed in my life. My wife hasn’t treated me any differently and people around me are still treating me the same.”
And that is just the way the impassive Dufner, 36, likes it, even after stepping into the spotlight with his first major championship triumph and third career PGA Tour title.
There was a whirl of media attention that brought him to New York City right after the PGA for a flurry of TV appearances, but now the glamorous metropolis serves as backdrop for the high-powered golf to come this week.
With the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline looming over a course built over landfill on the edge of New York harbor, Dufner joins world number one Tiger Woods, British Open winner Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open winner Justin Rose and Masters champion Adam Scott among favorites in the elite 125-man field.
Unsurprisingly, Dufner aims to stay on an even keel.
”I don’t put too much pressure on myself,“ he said. ”Just try to do the same thing as I’ve been doing the last couple years.
“We’ve got a great set of events coming up. You can really kind of make a year out of it. I know that winning a major can make your year, but I‘m focused on trying to get back to Atlanta (Tour Championship).”
The Tour Championship is the climax of the four-event playoffs with a field whittled down to the top 30 players on the points list with the overall series winner banking a $10 million bonus.
Dufner admitted that success had whetted his appetite.
“I think winning one made me a little hungrier to be competitive and win more events, more majors, be part of the Ryder Cup team, part of the Presidents Cup team,” he said.
“I‘m pretty good at thinking ahead and moving forward. Maybe in this case, it’s kind of a weakness because I haven’t maybe enjoyed what I did a couple weeks ago as much as maybe some other people would.”
Dufner said he was hoping for continued success, but understood the reality of life on the PGA Tour - at least for players other than Tiger Woods, who is gunning for his 80th career PGA Tour title.
“I think he spoils the media, the fans, with how well he plays, because then people think that other players should play at that level,” Dufner joked with his stone-faced delivery.
”You know, 79 wins is pretty remarkable. I’ve got three. If you look at the history of golf, if you win two percent of the time, you’re pretty much a Hall of Famer.
”Pretty much the average guy is about one percent of the events he plays, he wins. I think Tiger is probably around 23, 24 percent.
Woods is actually winning at a rate just under 26 percent with his 79 wins coming from 305 events, including five victories this season.
“So he’s way above the norm, and we don’t worry about him too much, unless you’ve got to face him on a Sunday,” said Dufner.
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Simon Evans