COMMENTARY | If a poll had been taken prior to the 2012 PGA TOUR season regarding who would be the hottest player going into the U.S. Open in June, Jason Dufner would not have been the most popular choice.
That's quickly changed as the world's 14th ranked player has been on fire of late, notching two victories within the last month and currently seeks his third on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Amazingly, it would be the third win in the 35 year-old's career.
To see a career resurgence in this fashion is exactly what makes the PGA TOUR exciting.
He won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 29, 2012 and after a week off and a start at THE PLAYERS, he won again at the HP Byron Nelson Classic. This is what makes golf fun to watch --the best players in the world always have a chance to capture the hearts of fans and do something special. Right now, it's Dufner's time to shine.
In a sport that struggles to compete against the United States' other major professional sports leagues for recognition and fanfare, Dufner is showing that there is no place like the PGA TOUR when it comes to parity.
Case in point, if he were to win at Colonial, also known as Hogan's Alley, he would be the only three-time TOUR winner in 2012 and the first since Jim Furyk in 2010. He was ranked world No. 35 in the first week of the season, and now finds himself with a legitimate shot to crack the top-10 before the U.S. Open.
It's both a sign of encouragement and a display of excitement for the golf world. It's seen its most influential athlete in decades, Tiger Woods, become almost irrelevant on the golf course. With a player like Dufner winning convincingly and often, the PGA TOUR is giving sports fans a reason to tune in to watch golf's elite compete each week. There's always potential to witness greatness.
Dufner's play has been stellar in Ft. Worth, Texas, where he's posted rounds of 65-64-66 to take a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson. At this point, the player who was an afterthought throughout his career has now thrust himself into contention for a spot on the Presidents Cup team and is in the early conversation for Player of the Year.
That's the beauty of the PGA TOUR. Anything can happen from week to week, and a star can be made in the blink of an eye. For Dufner, it's clear that he's not just a one-hit wonder. He's looking to solidify himself as a force on golf's greatest stage for years to come.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the PGA TOUR. He has written for southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.
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