AVONDALE — Nothing seems to crack Jason Dufner’s calm.
Not melting down like a glacier in August with a five-stroke lead and three to play at last year’s PGA Championship, a loss of career-killing proportions. Not driving into the lake at 16 in Sunday’s final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, tied for the lead with Ernie Els, dreams of victory ready to come unzipped again and a hungry alligator floating a chip shot away.
Not even the two words that have sent many a mortal man’s eyelids fluttering: “I do.”
Dufner, a former Auburn golfer, is getting married Saturday in Auburn, Ala., to cute-as-peach-pie and longtime girlfriend Amanda Boyd.
It is, going in, a house divided.
“I’m an Alabama grad,” Boyd explained as she sifted through an avalanche of congratulatory text messages.
There are tougher obstacles.
Like the last little birdie putt Dufner needed to win a playoff for the Zurich title after Els fired and missed from the fringe on 18.
One foot stood between Dufner and the goal line, a tiny patch of TPC Louisiana real estate that drew the warning “Don’t miss it!” unbidden and unwanted into his mind.
“I had to admit that, but that will run through your head for a second,” Dufner said with a well-deserved chuckle. “You want to make sure that thought is gone.”
Now he can just think about the wedding — and getting to the church on time.
Afterward, the newlyweds are taking a honeymoon to the islands.
Make that island — the island green on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship two weeks from now.
“You ever been there?” Dufner asked a reporter as though he were describing St. Lucia or Fiji. “Pretty cool event.”
A proper honeymoon will have to wait until sometime this summer after the U.S. Open. Boyd knew the deal she was getting into when she fell in love with a golfer.
“She wanted to have a spring wedding,” Dufner said. “There’s a lot of great events out here.”
That’s life on the PGA Tour. There are trade-offs for players and families, who can tell you it isn’t as glamorous as people think when they tune in a tournament on a Sunday afternoon.
“There’s walking through the mud and getting stuck in airports and food poisoning,” Boyd said. “It’s not just playing golf.”
And there’s coming close to winning time and again only to have it brush past your fingers, the void replaced by damning questions and lingering self doubt, even as Dufner said from your inner circle.
“I knew he had it in him,” Boyd said. “I knew he could do it.”
Now that he’s won once, Dufner, already No. 30 in the world, will find it easier to close the deal next time.
Meanwhile, the Dufners have an early wedding present in the form of the Zurich Classic winner’s trophy.
And they didn’t even have to register for it.