I’m almost as bad at betting on golf as I am at playing it but I earned a contribution to the holiday I’m now enjoying in West Wales by backing Jason Dufner to win last weekend’s US PGA title at Oak Hill in New York State.
I’d been keeping an eye on the 36-year-old Dufner this season not because he has an flamboyant style or a beguiling personality but he is exactly the opposite of what we expect of a potential golfing superstar.
He has travelled a long, tough road to the top without attracting much attention. I hesitate to say this but he has the look of a hacker about him — not the way he plays, obviously, but his hang-dog look and lack of noticeable expectation from the game does bear some comparison with those of us doomed to disaster.
The difference, of course, is that he can play the game. To break the course record with a 63 in a Major Championship that slew the greatest names in golf and then go on to win by a two stroke margin from Jim Furyk in such a calmly authoritative manner was a wonder.
He is so laid back, I’m not sure the Americans know how to deal with him. One US golf writer said …’ he has the resting heartbeat of a hibernating turnip’.
He may not have the looks of a swashbuckling hero, or the panache of a Woods or a McIlroy but he has just demonstrated an ability to do the business with a minimum of showmanship.
It is for that reason that I nominate Mr Dufner as the hacker’s hero, a man with whom we of the underclass can identify. There are others who can answer to this description, who have qualities the ordinary golfer can recognise.
But Duffers, if he will forgive the familiarity, was the first of them to win a Major and he deserves our loyalty, the following of a large group of sufferers.
There have been others who have shot through the ranks to win a Major and then disappear back into obscurity. I’m backing our man not to do that.
The very next day after the US PGA, I was out at Cardigan golf course playing my old friend Eric Davies who had to give me 13 shots and after nine holes I was holding my own. There was a chilly wind to start but gradually it got warmer and the view of the Teifi estuary was brilliant as usual.
Then I fell apart. My drive on the ninth threatened the local wheat crop, I also lost my drive on the 11th and two drives on 14 dived into the gorse. I lost five and four but was I downhearted? Definitely not. I’m like Dufner. We retain the inner calm that will eventually see us through.