PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) – Golf, not gardening is Jason Dufner’s strong suit.
But the just-crowned PGA Championship winner decided he wanted something more to remember Oak Hill by than the usual souvenirs _ a hefty check, a gleaming trophy and a host of good memories.
So he and wife Amanda spoke with the club’s general manager and arranged to have a sapling from the course nursery shipped to a 50-acre site near Auburn, Ala., where the couple is building a home. Amanda said her husband had a feeling he’d do well in the tournament, and in the middle of the second round Friday, Dufner walked over to the gallery ropes and handed over a couple of acorns he’d picked up.
But just to be safe, they’ll have the sapling.
“So at least that one will take root,” Dufner laughed. “I will have some trees out there, and it will be a neat experience _ first major championship at Oak Hill and hopefully, have some of their oak trees out there on the property.”
CLOTHES MAKE THE CADDIE: Steve Williams, who works for Adam Scott and used to caddie for Tiger Woods, was supposed to wear a yellow bib for Sunday’s final round, but somehow wound up wearing a white one.
PGA officials told Scott to make sure Williams switched colors, but the plan went nowhere.
“There was no controversy,” Scott assured reporters after the round.
“I bogeyed the first and I forgot because I was nervy. I forgot to ask him to change, so he never did.”
RORY ROARING BACK? Defending champion Rory McIlroy finished tied for eighth.
But it was something he may have found _ his golf game _ that made handing back the trophy a little easier to take.
In a season without any titles, he posted his best showing in a major this season and gave himself an outside shot at victory. He had a 4-foot birdie putt Sunday that would have moved him to 5 under, but missed. Then a triple-bogey 7 at No. 5 sealed his fate.
He finished with a 70 to close the tournament at 3 under.
Considering McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut midway through the second round, the PGA could go down as the moment that he rediscovered his game and his optimism. The FedEx Cup playoffs will offer a chance to prove this week was a turnaround, not a fluke.
KOEPKA’S NEW NEIGHBORHOOD: Brooks Koepka lives down the road from Tiger Woods, though the two don’t usually run into each other on the course.
The 23-year-old American chose Europe’s Challenge Tour as his route to golf’s top levels. He earned promotion to the European Tour in June.
With a special exemption from the PGA of America, he teed off in this week’s PGA Championship and made the cut at a major for the first time in three tries. Grabbing a bite to eat after his third round Saturday, he saw on TV that Tiger Woods was at 4 over, the same score as Koepka. He hoped it stayed that way so the two could play together in the final round.
Sure enough, Koepka got to meet Woods for the first time on the putting green Sunday before they played 18 holes together. Koepka shot a 7-over 77, while Woods had a 70.
“I think everyone my age admired him growing up,” said Koepka, who went to Florida State. “He’s the reason I’m playing. It was a bunch of fun to play with him. Nice guy. Hell of a player.”
New to the experience of the large crowds hovering off every shot of Woods’ group, Koepka bogeyed three of his first four holes then made a triple bogey on No. 5.
“It’s hard that first tee,” he said. “That was pretty neat. Just hearing everybody, it was unbelievable the people shouting his name. Obviously, I have seen it growing up and things like that, but when you are actually out there it was definitely a little different.”
Koepka lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and is considering joining Woods’ home club, The Medalist, a topic they chatted about on the course Sunday. Koepka had seen the world’s top-ranked golfer at the club a couple of times in the past, but “obviously he had no clue who I am.”
Now he knows.
“Really talented. Good kid,” Woods said.
“It’s good to see,” he added about Koepka’s ascension to the European Tour. “Good, old-fashioned work pays off, and he should be proud of it.”
MICKELSON WRAPS UP: Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson was introduced as the “champion golfer of the year” after winning the British Open. On Sunday, he finished the PGA Championship with little fanfare after rallying for a 72 to finish at the bottom of the pack.
“I didn’t play very well the last two weeks. I’m not going to worry about it,” Mickelson said.
Lefty was thrilling as always. During a six-hole stretch on the front nine, he had one par, one bogey, one double bogey, one triple bogey and two birdies. He played the back nine with two birdies and no bogeys.
He was headed home to San Diego to tinker with his short game, otherwise take five days off and then start hitting balls to get ready for the FedEx Cup playoffs. They start at Liberty National and TPC Boston, and Mickelson said he would have a driver in the bag for both tournaments. He had been using only a strong 3-wood.
DIVOTS: Tim Clark had the only hole-in-one of the tournament. At the 11th on Sunday, he knocked it in from 220 yards with a hybrid. … CBS Sports said its third-round coverage had an overnight rating of 3.0 with an 8 share, compared with a 2.3/5 for last year, when the third round at Kiawah Island was interrupted by rain.
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