BIO: 36 / 5-foot-10 / 180 pounds | Driver: Titleist 910D2, 9.5 degrees
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driving accuracy (rank): 65.1 percent (rank: 35th)
Greens in regulations (rank): 67.7 percent (34th)
Jason Dufner usually doesn't draw his drives. Doesn't fade 'em, either. It's not like he can't work the ball in both directions; it's just that the way he swings makes the ball fly basically straight. Come to think of it, Dufner's swing is a lot like his personality: not flashy but rock steady.
"There's no bad position he has to recover from," says his teacher, Chuck Cook, who has coached five major champions, including Payne Stewart and Tom Kite. "His arms stay in front of his body all the way, his swing moves back and down on virtually one plane, and his left wrist remains flat. All this helps eliminate the need for timing to hit it straight."
Last year, Dufner finished near the top in greens in regulation (seventh) and driving accuracy (19th)--two major consistency stats. His numbers aren't as impressive so far this year, but they're far better than in 2007, when he was 135th in hitting fairways. It took five years of work to get the control he now has, which led him to two wins in 2012--his first two--and a spot on the Ryder Cup team (he went 3-1 in the matches).
Before he began working with Cook in 2008, results like that would have seemed far-fetched. In his first 83 PGA Tour events, Dufner had just two top-10 finishes (he has since had 22 in 104 starts). What was holding him back? Cook says one big issue was not being able to consistently square the face at impact. Dufner would often block his drives right and occasionally hit a big hook. To try to keep the ball in play, he was forced to make mid-swing adjustments.
"I had to do things with my body--compensations--that I don't have to do anymore," Dufner says. "Now I can just swing without having to think about too much. All I'm trying to do is make a full turn so that when I swing down, I have enough room for my right shoulder to move down toward the ball. That helps me square the face."
Cook adds: "He does a great job of keeping his arms matched up with his body during the swing. Everything moves together."
But here's the biggest compliment Cook pays his student: "Duf's move is very Hogan-like, especially through the ball. His right forearm is in line with the club at impact [when viewed from behind], which is a key indicator of a straight shot, and one that Hogan mastered."