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Fans once again can pick players' poison at the PGA Championship

By Mike Stachura

A year ago when the PGA of America offered fans the opportunity to choose the hole location at Oak Hill's 15th green for the final round of the PGA Championship, it ushered in a new era of fan interaction in tournament golf. It also gave a chance for the public to confound the best golfers in the world.

loop-pga-valhalla-16-hole-location-518.jpgThe PGA of America is doing it again this year at Valhalla, offering fans four choices on the brutish par-4 16th (above).

Voting runs through Aug. 9 at picktheholechallenge.pga.com. And if the early trend holds, fans seem to want to test the best under pressure. The current top choice is the diabolical back-left location.

Here's a PGA of America video highlighting the four choices, with commentary from Jack Nicklaus, who designed Valhalla, and Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's course set-up guru.


Photo: Gary Kellner/The PGA of America via Getty Images

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News & Tours

The Donald gets his men's major: 2022 PGA going to Trump Bedminster

By Geoff Shackelford

Trump National Bedminster, less than six miles from USGA headquarters and host to the 2017 U.S. Women's Open, has agreed to host the 2022 PGA Championship according to multiple sources with knowledge of Thursday's scheduled press conference.

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A formal announcement will be made at 11 a.m ET May 1 from Trump Tower in New York City, where PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua, PGA president Ted Bishop and Donald Trump will discuss the decision to bring the major championship to suburban New Jersey.

Trump National Bedminster was thought to be in the running for a U.S. Open after it had the chance to showcase itself during Women's Open week in 2017. Sources, however, say that the USGA is more intrigued by Trump Ferry Point, a course still in development in the Bronx designed by Jack Nicklaus and to be managed by Trump's company. The city-owned Ferry Point, set to open in spring 2015, has a price tag of $236 million, according to a recent unbylined New York Daily News story.

The PGA of America will host the major championship in the shadows of Golf House and just three years after taking the PGA Championship to Bethpage State Park on Long Island and only two years prior to the 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage. The U.S. Open will be played at Long Island's Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and outside New York City at Westchester County's Winged Foot in 2020.

A Senior PGA Championship will also be announced as part of the package with Trump National Bedminster. 


UPDATE -- Thursday, May 1: The PGA of America officially awarded the 2022 PGA Championship to Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, as reported above. Additionally, the association also announced that it would bring the 2017 Senior PGA Championship to another Trump facility, Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va.

"Certainly when you have courses, when you get acknowledged to have one of the majors ... having the PGA is a very, very big deal," Trump said at the news conference. "So it's very important to me. It's a great honor for me and it's a tremendous honor for both of those clubs." 

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News & Tours

A major for Spyglass Hill? 'The ownership would welcome it'

Spyglass Hill.jpg

(Getty Images photo)

By John Strege

The first time Jack Nicklaus played Spyglass Hill Golf Course, in 1967, Bing Crosby bet him $5 that he wouldn't break par. Nicklaus shot a one-under par 71. "I've got a nice five-dollar bill at home, signed by Bing," Nicklaus said.

Crosby made his point nonetheless. From day one, Spyglass Hill, part of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am rotation since 1967, has been a formidable test. In Golf Digest's ranking of America's 75 Toughest Courses two years ago, it came in fourth, behind the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Pine Valley and Oakmont.

The question, then, is this: Should Spyglass Hill, 48th in Golf Digest's most recent ranking of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses, be considered for a major championship?

"That's a very good question," said Robert Trent Jones II, a renowned course architect whose father, Robert Trent Jones, designed Spyglass Hill. "It actually has been considered from time to time. I think it should. That would be a great idea.

"Pebble Beach would love to have another major championship, even Arnold Palmer [among the Pebble Beach Company owners]. The ownership would be for it. They would welcome it."

The U.S. Open is out; Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the Open five times and it returns there in 2019. But Spyglass Hill would seem an attractive venue for the PGA of America to consider when awarding courses for a PGA Championship for a couple of reasons.

One, it's on the West Coast, where major championship venue options are limited. Moreover, playing a major in the Pacific time zone enables the tournament to end in television prime time in the east.

Then there's this: Jones said it is "a commonly held view" of many tour players that Spyglass Hill, if not as historic or scenic, is actually a better course than Pebble Beach, certainly more challenging.


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News & Tours

If the PGA Championship were held overseas, where would it go?

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

The PGA Championship has an identity crisis. We get it. But if the PGA of America has something to say about it (which it does), it won't have one for much longer.

In Ron Sirak's piece in the most recent issue of Golf World, he reports the PGA of America is exploring the possibility of holding the PGA Championship overseas. You can read the full piece here.

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It sounds like a pretty interesting idea, especially considering four of its last six winners have been from overseas, so we decided to run through a few places that could feasibly host a PGA Championship in the future.

The Favorites

South Korea
The 2002 soccer World Cup, which was a joint South Korea-Japan bid, was a roaring success, so why not hold a PGA Championship there? Aside from South Korea being a strategic ally of the United States (which helps if the PGA decides it wants to play a bigger role in the global political sphere), the country has the infrastructure to host a large-scale event, and boasts the first-ever Asian male major championship winner -- 2009 PGA Champion Y.E. Yang.

China
Should the PGA decide on bringing its major to Asia, the other obvious choice is China. Its golfers may have experienced limited success on the PGA Tour so far, but with growing interest in the sport in a country with more than 1.3 billion people, a major may ignite what could soon be a golfing superpower.


Continental Europe
Once upon a time, when professional golfers only came from the UK and America, it made sense for majors to stay within the two countries. But now, with Continental Europe boasting half of the members of the most recent European Ryder Cup, the 2013 FedEx Cup Champion (Henrik Stenson) and three former World No. 1s (Martin Kaymer, Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros), it's only fair to bring a major to mainland Europe.

South Africa
Only twice has the PGA Championship been won by a South African and both times it was by the same player, Gary Player. Nevertheless, a golf-strong country like South Africa, which has hosted a Presidents Cup and has given the game Player, Els, Loche and Goosen, deserves a major of its own -- as long as there are no vuvuzelas.


Australia
When Tiger Woods set the record for most consecutive weeks at World No. 1, who did he overtake? That's right, an Australian: Greg Norman. Australians have combined to win 10 majors and would make a good host for one of the game's biggest contests. The time difference may be difficult for U.S. viewers, but a major Down Under would allow to PGA to move out of the shadow of the other three majors, to a more distinct spot on the calendar.


Two Outsiders

Canada
Taking a major overseas is a big commitment, so Canada may be an appealing option should the PGA decide to ease into it. The country already boasts a major winner in Mike Weir and once hosted a Presidents Cup.

India
Another outsider, but with India fast emerging as an economic superpower, bringing a major to a country with 1.2 billion people could grow the game exponentially. Security and lack of infrastructure, though, could both pose major issues.

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News & Tours

Golf's majors by the numbers: Learn from our interactive stats tool

By Alex Myers

We all know who won golf's major championships in 2013, but there's still a lot to be learned from sifting through the stats from the game's four marquee events. How much did distance matter? Did anyone gain an edge from accuracy off the tee? Was greens hit in regulation or how players fared when they missed greens a better indicator of success?

Related: Try GolfDigest.com's majors interactive tool

Thanks to our new interactive tool, you can sort through the data yourself to get a better understanding of why the leader boards turned out the way they did. For instance, everyone focused on Jason Dufner's performance from tee to green at the PGA Championship, but did you know a big part of why he took home the Wanamaker Trophy was because he led the field at Oak Hill in scrambling?

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A cold putter was a big reason why Woods didn't win a major in 2013.

Did you know that only 13 players made the cut in all four majors? Did you know that Martin Kaymer was one of those players? How did Jason Day tie for the lowest score in relation to par and not collect a first major trophy?

And what about Tiger Woods? The World No. 1 has five tour wins in 2013, yet his drought in majors grew to five years. The 14-time major champion didn't excel in any of the statistical categories we tracked. And while a wayward driver got most of the attention from his critics, it was the shortest club in his bag that really let him down.

Related: Our review of 2013's major championships

Visit our special section to do your own investigating of those who made the weekend at the majors. Who knows, the research you do now might just come in handy when you enter next year's office pool.

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News & Tours

The Grind: Jason Dufner's world, USGA/PGA jousting and Tiger Woods' troubles

By Alex Myers

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we regret not taking our grandfather's advice and incorporating a waggle into our pre-shot routine. Ben Hogan did it and now a guy who hit a golf ball like Hogan for four days at the season's final major does. Sigh. Why don't I waggle? Why don't we ALL waggle?

WE'RE BUYING

Jason Dufner: We'll forget about those closing bogeys and focus on the ball-striking clinic Dufner put on all week at Oak Hill. How do you win your first major when everyone can practically see you shaking when you stand over your putts on Sunday? Simple. By hitting approach shots so close that even his wife could knock them in. Speaking of Amanda Dufner, between her, a Wanamaker Trophy and an appearance on the Howard Stern Show, this guy is doing pretty well for himself.

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Yes, honey. That's your name on the trophy.

Henrik Stenson: How good has Stenson's last month been? Two thirds and two runner-ups, including one of each at the season's final two majors. "Hank the Tank" is here to stay.

Related: The Defining Shots Of The PGA Championship

Oak Hill: We only got glimpses of how the Rochester, N.Y. track could play in firmer conditions, but so what? A softer Oak Hill made for a lot of close approach shots and at the same time, the historic track still had extra-juicy rough that could swallow errant tee shots. Last November, Jason Dufner tweeted that Oak Hill was one of his five favorite courses. Maybe others could have benefited from similar positive thinking.

Adam Scott: The critics will say he could have won three majors this year. We say he's still the first golfer since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to finish in the top five of three majors in the same season. And with with a swing that Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee described as "maybe the greatest ever," the Aussie isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Scott entered 2013 as arguably the best golfer to have never won a major. He'll exit as arguably the game's best player.

WE'RE SELLING

Tiger Woods: A week after blowing away the field at Firestone, Woods looked like a different player -- that guy who dresses like the 14-time major champion but doesn't play like him in majors. Woods continued his conservative strategy in golf's big events, even with a soft Oak Hill there for the taking. He made just 10 birdies for the week and finished T-40 to match his worst performance in a major where he's made the cut. The wait until next year's Masters could be the longest eight months of his life.

Related: The winners and losers from Oak Hill

Matt Kuchar: Others who had worse weeks, but the world No. 6 deserves to be singled out for how he handled a weekend in which he had a chance to win his first major. Kuchar birdied the first hole on Saturday to pull within a shot of the lead, but played his next 19 holes in 10 over to end his title chances.

People complaining about a lack of drivers: This has been a common complaint this year, especially in the majors. Well, guess what? No one is stopping ANYONE from hitting the big stick and those who do it well can still gain an edge. Look no further than Jason Dufner, who pulled driver time-after-time on Sunday. Dufner spun a wedge into the cup for an eagle on Friday and nearly did it three times during the final round. Why did he have such a short club in his hands for those approach shots? You do the math.

Related: Our favorite Johnny Millerisms

USGA/Fox Sports deal: Starting in 2015, the U.S. Open will feature no Johnny?! And no Yanni?! It's enough to make a grown-man cry. Geoff Shackelford called out the USGA's timing, Ron Sirak broke down the stunning deal and Tim Rosaforte reported Greg Norman might be Fox Sports' answer to Johnny Miller in the booth. OK, I'm starting to lose it again. Where did I put those tissues?

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to the Greensboro for the Wyndham Championship, aka "Glory's Last Shot," if you want a shot at the end-of-the-season money grab known as the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Only the top 125 players in points after this week will be allowed to tee it up at next week's Barclays, the first of four postseason events.

Related: The PGA Tour's surprising winners of 2013

Random tournament fact: Since this event moved to Sedgfield CC in 2008, the average winning score has been 19-under par. In other words, don't expect a grindfest out there.

WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP

Think no one won two majors this year? Think again. With my brilliant pick of Jason Dufner in the second round, I won our PGA Championship pool, adding to the Masters pool I won thanks to Adam Scott. I should probably quit while I'm ahead, but I'd be doing you a disservice.

Starters -- (A-List): Bill Haas: A disappointing weekend at the PGA Championship doesn't change the fact that the North Carolina native has gone T-4, win, T-9, T-7 in his last four non-major starts.

(B-List): Webb Simpson: We'll keep the Wake Forest/good guy vibes going with the 2011 champ fresh off a week in which he tied Oak Hill's course record on Friday -- at least, until Jason Dufner broke it a few hours later.

Related: Who is the best current player without a major?

(B-List): Zach Johnson: After a rough start to the season, ZJ has been on a tear, with four straight top 10s, including two in major championships and a runner-up at the John Deere. We say he gets his first win of 2013 here.

(C-List): Hideki Matsuyama: His three major championships this year resulted in a T-10 at Merion, a T-6 at Muirfield and a T-19 at Oak Hill. Oh yeah, he's only 21.

Bench: Brandt Snedeker, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Roberto Castro.

VIRAL PHOTO OF THE WEEK

A no-brainer this week:

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#DufSqueeze #Dufnering, #DufTown, #DufDaddy, #Dufsanity. You get the point. It's Jason Dufner's world right now.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- A struggling pro will approach Jason Dufner and ask him for a lesson in waggling: 5-to-1 odds

-- Jason Dufner won't be given a lot of short putts at the Presidents Cup: LOCK

THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

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The two lovebirds are back in mid-season form (DJ looks to be back in form as well, with a T-8 at the PGA) when it comes to posting pictures. Here are two that caught our eye. Of the second one, Paulina writes: "Burger Barn w. My Baby." Hmm. We wouldn't have pegged her as the burger-eating type. . .

THIS AND THAT Sunday TV ratings for the PGA Championship were up 13 percent from last year. The lesson learned? We need more final pairings of Jason Dufner and Jim Furyk! . . . Andrew Svoboda, a PGA Tour member this year, won his first Web.com tournament. My first big golf assignment was shadowing him at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where he was a member. Good times. . . The PGA of America announced news that Bethpage Black will host the 2019 PGA and 2024 Ryder Cup during the U.S. Amateur, but said the timing wasn't done as a retaliation for the USGA announcing its TV deal with Fox Sports on the eve of the PGA. Sure it wasn't. . . .

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Does Jason Dufner play poker?

Does Jason Dufner have a dip sponsor?

Is it too late to learn to waggle?

-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

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News & Tours

Can't stand the yelling fans? Here's your chance to offer a solution

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

There's no denying that Ian Poulter is a master at finding the spotlight regardless of how he played. Largely irrelevant after the first round at the British Open, he made headlines when openly criticized the course setup. This time around, his target wasn't tournament officials, but rather the yelling fans who made their presence known at Oak Hill.

And he may be on to something.

Some of the post-shot yelling, which included phrases like "mashed potatoes," " Chewbacca" and "Baba booey," got so bad on Sunday that at one point it actually interfered with Jim Furyk's golf swing at a time when he was still vying for the lead.

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Poulter wants fans to write-in to the PGA Tour with their suggestion over how to stop the yelling, while on ESPN radio Monday morning, talk-show hosts Mike and Mike agreed that yelling fans should be immediately escorted out of the grounds.
 
Have you got a solution? Let us hear.

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News & Tours

Jason Dufner's similarities to hero Ben Hogan go beyond his golf swing

By Tim Rosaforte

From the August 12 edition of Golf World Monday:

If he were alive today, you'd have to wonder what Ben Hogan would've thought about the art of Dufnering. Out of respect to the 95th PGA champion, would the Hawk have sat with his back up against a wall, legs straight in front of him, and sent out a Twitter pic in celebration of Jason Dufner's victory yesterday at Oak Hill?

"Absolutely not," Dufner said when we sat down Sunday night. "And if he did, he wouldn't let me publicize something like that on Twitter."

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Notwithstanding Duf's tousled mop of hair and the social media craze he invented, chances are Hogan would have admired Dufner for being respectful of his mystique, and most of all, for the way he can strike a golf ball. After he had broken Hogan's course record 64 on Friday, I asked Dufner about his reverence for the Hawk, and he admitted, "You feel like you're fighting him a little bit, trying to not let it happen."

Related: The winners and losers from Sunday at Oak Hill

Dufner told me he admired Hogan because of the adversity he went through. Hogan came back from a near-fatal car crash, Dufner from his parents' divorce, walking on at Auburn because no D1 schools were offering a scholarship and, later, losing his father to cancer when he was in his mid-20s.

And although his swing isn't a carbon copy of Hogan's, it is pretty close in the eyes of Chuck Cook, his 68-year-old instructor. "If you look at it in slow motion, it's pretty flat," Cook said. "Personally, I think it's the most efficient swing out there."

The toughest part about shooting 63 and tying the 18-hole major championship record is that there were two rounds to go. And with a shaky putter, knowing he let the 2011 PGA slip away to Keegan Bradley, the tough part lay ahead. As Dufner's wife, Amanda, told me that day, "Too bad it's not Sunday night."

Come Sunday, Dufner was Hoganesque, knocking down flagsticks, doing what Valerie Hogan once told Ben when he was struggling with his putting, "Hit it closer." Dufner did, time and time again, striking the ball about as well as you can hit it over the final 18 holes of a major championship. He followed the words of Cook, who told him Saturday night, "Go ballstrike the heck out of them tomorrow."

Kindred: Why Dufner is an unlikely hero

Never has there been a more unassuming flat-liner to win a major. Remember, this is the same unassuming Jason Dufner who stood at the podium on Friday and said, "I don't think I've been the first to do anything in my life."

Well, this was a first. No golfer from Auburn had ever won a major championship. And, of course, nobody ever shot 63 at Oak Hill before, or finished a major on the East course at double digits (-10) under par. In the 1956 U.S. Open, Hogan missed a 30-inch putt on the 71st hole to miss a playoff with Cary Middlecoff by a stroke.

"I didn't practice many four-to-six inchers to win a tournament," Dufner said. "But you know, it was the perfect ending for me."

Just like the Hawk, understated.

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News & Tours

Another lost Sunday for Furyk, but this time it's not his fault

By Matthew Rudy

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- On another Sunday night, Jim Furyk came up empty when he had a chance to win. But unlike the bitter taste a snap-hooked tee shot as the co-leader on the 16th hole at Olympic Club left at the 2012 U.S. Open, or the consecutive bogeys that cost him a crucial match against Sergio Garcia at the Ryder Cup later that year, Furyk's two-shot loss to Jason Dufner left him with no regrets.
 
"There are other times when I felt like tournaments slipped through my fingers," said the upbeat Furyk after his final-round 71. "I played my heart out today. I just got beat by a guy who played better."

blog-furyk-rudy-480.jpgFuryk and Dufner were tied for the lead as late as No. 8, when Furyk hit a 7-iron to 10 feet to set up a prime birdie chance. But Dufner hit his approach a foot from the hole to set up an easy birdie, and Furyk's putt slipped by. Furyk spent the rest of the afternoon trying to catch up. He followed another stiffed Dufner approach on No. 16 with a clutch 15-foot birdie to stay two behind, but matched Dufner's bogeys on the 17th and 18th to fall short.
 
Related: Day 4 at the PGA, as told by GIFs

"I got off to kind of a rocky start ball-striking-wise, but I thought I hit it really well on the back nine," said Furyk, who registered his 13th top-5 finish in a major with one win, at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. "I just couldn't make a couple of putts when I needed them. Not making birdie on 13 with a wedge in my hand, not making birdie on 14 with a wedge in my hand. That hurt me. After that, I just wasn't able to put enough heat on Jason."
 
Furyk shot rounds of 65-68-68-71 to finish eight under and take $865,000 back home for a week off in Ponte Vedra Beach -- along with a shot of confidence heading into the FedEx Cup Playoff events. "I played very poorly at the U.S. Open, very poorly at the British Open. I was putting horrendous, and was putting a lot of pressure on the rest of my game," said Furyk. "It was nice to turn that around and come to major championship at a place that really sets up well for my game. I liked my chances here.

 
"I feel like the last 12 rounds I've played have been very solid, very good under pressure," said Furyk, who finished T-9 at both the Canadian Open and the WGC-Bridgestone in the two weeks leading up to Oak Hill. "I've got some energy, and I'm looking forward to getting to the playoffs."
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News & Tours

Day 4 at the PGA Championship, as told by GIFs

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

This may be stating the obvious, but it's not easy playing with Tiger Woods. Aside from the looming fear that his driver may be coming to get you at any moment, the pressure of impressing the best player in the world and all the extra attention that goes along with it is tough to handle. On whole, Brooks Koepka did pretty well. That is, apart from this chip on the fifth hole which led to a double bogey. Just stop rolling already!

blog-chip-water-480.gifThere was exactly one hole-in-one at the 2013 PGA Championship and it came on the 11th hole at the hands of Tim Clark, who finished third the last time the PGA was at Oak Hill. Not sure what's better, the fact that the ball went into the hole, or the gingerly manner his playing partner, Miguel Angel Jimenez, decided to come congratulate him. Incidentally, it was actually Jimenez who benefited the most from the ace. He went on a five birdie tear starting on the next hole. 

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Jason Dufner making birdies. Henrik Stenson mounting a charge. Jason Day and Scott Piercy taking it deep. It all got a little overwhelming at one point, so it was probably a good move to cut away from the action to show this man sitting on a ladder. In fairness, he is putting his fellow spectators to shame.

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On a side note, is there any golfer, man or women, who produces more powerful divots than Henrik Stenson? The man just annihilates the ground with every club he hits. The Swede finished alone in third place at seven under. 

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I miss the days when we only had to listen to someone shout "get in the hole" after every. Single. Shot. Some of the shouting got so bad on Sunday that Jim Furyk, who finished alone in second at eight under, took issue with it on the 16th tee. And he wasn't the only one: Ian Poulter used his Twitter account to go on quite the rampage against the shouters, saying he wanted them "tazed."

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Jason Dufner squeezes wife's butt, wins the PGA Championship. That's the headline and I'm sticking to it. Guilty of ruining a perfectly nice moment between man and wife? Perhaps (it wouldn't be the only time this week). But you've got to admit: His technique was flawless. 

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July 28, 2014

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