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Jason Dufner Proves Intensity Comes in Many Forms

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Jason Dufner has never been known to be an excitable person, on or off the golf course. In fact, that might be a bit of an understatement.

During the final round of the 2013 PGA Championship, Dufner's longtime friend Nick Malinowski told Yahoo! Sports' Eric Adelson that Dufner has always exuded a sense of melancholy. If there are emotions flowing through the mind of the newest major champion, you sure as heck wouldn't know it by watching him play golf.

Even as he tapped in his final putt of the tournament to claim his first major, all the excitement Dufner could muster was a mild fist pump and a nod of the head to his caddy. Following a brief embrace -- and loving "tap" -- with his wife, Amanda, Dufner headed into the scoring tent to sign his card, much like he's done in any other tournament round previously.

Just another day at the office. This one just ended with a bigger trophy.

Still, don't let Dufner's lack of outward exuberance fool you. Behind the eyes of the tobacco-chewing, shaggy-haired Alabaman is a golfer who has been driven to excel at any level that he has played. After picking up the game at 14 years old, Dufner played on his school's golf team for St. Thomas Aquinas High School for three years. His determination to succeed pushed him to walk on to play collegiate golf at Auburn University, where he won three tournaments and earned an All-American Honorable Mention in 1997.

While his amateur career following college was brief, Dufner's poised attitude and consistent ball-striking earned him an appearance in the finals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Torrey Pines in 1998. He would turn professional two years later and has accumulated five professional wins, including three on the PGA Tour.

You would never know it by looking at his reaction at the time, but Dufner's biggest professional disappointment came at the 2011 PGA Championship where Keegan Bradley defeated Dufner by a single stroke in a three-hole aggregate playoff.

"I'm disappointed now, but there are a lot of good things to take from this week," Dufner told PGA.com's Stan Awtrey following the loss. "Coming from where I came from, to be in this position, it's a dream come true. I'm not going to let this [loss] define my career."

Time showed how Dufner would stay true to both his word and his temperament. Even after finally winning his first PGA tournament in 2012 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans -- 12 years after turning pro -- Dufner barely cracked a smile. The story remained the same one month later at the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship as he carded his second win, chew tucked firmly in his lip.

No, Jason Dufner is not the textbook image of an electric champion athlete. The terms "adrenaline" and "electric" don't seem to fit the description of the 36-year-old.

Thanks to his focus, commitment and strive to make his mark on the game he respects more than anything, the phrase "major champion" perfectly describes Jason Dufner.

Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can also be found on the Back9Network. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.

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