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Born for second?


It is remarkable how the PGA Championship has a knack for producing journeyman victors. Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, YE Yang, Keegan Bradley and now Jason Dufner are among the list of names on the Fred Wanamaker trophy that are unlikely to reach double figures in terms of majors won. Or even add to their current haul.

It's a generalisation with numerous exceptions, but the winner of any of the other three majors seem to elicit greater adulation, and dramatic tussles with some of the bigger names in golf seem to stick in the memory bank to a lesser extent when it comes to the PGA.

In fact, when someone asks the question "who won the PGA last year?", you could easily be forgiven for not always having the answer on the tip of your tongue.

But issues of esteem and prestige aside, it is still a major, and Dufner joins an elite group that all young players aspire to be a part of from the moment they smash their first ball.

What struck me though, was that he now boasts the same number of majors as the man he beat on Sunday - Jim Furyk. Jim Furyk! A veteran of eight Ryder Cups, and seven President Cups. A man with 26 wins as a professional. Yet he has just one major to his credit - the same number as the likes of Todd Hamilton, Lucas Glover, Steve Jones, and many other one-hit wonders.

Clearly, majors won is an incomplete measure of a player's success during their career.

Just ask Lee Westwood.

But another sentiment that Mr Westwood may concur with is that winning the first major is meant to be the tough part for a great player. Phil Mickelson seems to have lent credence to that theory, as his agonising wait for that first major preceded a barrage by comparison.

But Furyk won his first over a decade ago. Olympia Fields was the venue, and the US Open was the title. And, given his standing in the world of golf, it was no fluke. It was about right. And certainly not a shock to our systems.

What puzzles me is not that he hasn't won another, but the manner in which he has relinquished them when he seemed a sure bet to close the deal.

A disastrous double bogey at the 17th hole at Oakmont at the 2007 US Open saw him lose out narrowly to Angel Cabrera, before a meltdown on the back nine cost him the same piece of silverware at the Olympic Club last year.

And then came Sunday's performance at Oak Hill. He didn't disgrace himself, and, other than two closing bogeys, didn't do a whole lot wrong. The 43-year-old commented after the tournament that he hadn't lost it, and that Dufner had gone out and won it.

But Dufner only posted a 68. It was a good score, but not one that blew his competitors out the water. With a one-stroke lead going into the final round, the experienced Furyk was many a bookie's favourite to get over the line.

But he didn't. And he was seemingly quite content with that.

His colleagues nickname him "the Grinder", and it is a nickname befitting of his short-hitting, hard-working style. But not of the results in his career. He could have, and perhaps should have, won more majors. But maybe he's okay with the fact that he hasn't. Are some people simply satisfied with second place? Perhaps even scared of the glory that first place brings?

Just ask Greg Norman.

Like Norman, Furyk is a major winner, and that can never be taken away from him. And his achievements across the board are nothing to be sneezed at. But Sunday's "silver medal" might just be the perfect synopsis of his career - a man who we'll all remember as a great player, but one who was perhaps a yard or two away from the limelight.

Perhaps the "lesser-hailed" Wanamaker trophy would have been a more fitting one to have in his cabinet then?


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