Jason Dufner let a 4-shot lead slip through his hands in the final four holes of the 2011 PGA Championship. The slide dropped him into a three-hole playoff with Keegan Bradley, which Dufner would go on to lose.
Two years later, however, Dufner is a major winner for the first time, taking the Wanamaker trophy by two shots at Oak Hill C.C. in Rochester, N.Y., over Jim Furyk.
The 36-year-old is a first-time major winner, but he becomes the ninth person to pull off a rare feat. Only nine times in history has a player lost a major in a playoff and then come back to win that very same major they lost within two years.
In major championship history, there have been 87 playoffs (including a handful of final matches in the Match Play Era of the PGA Championship that went extra holes). Most playoff losers are never heard from again. Many contend in other majors. Some wind up winning that very major or another within a handful of years. But few are able to turn it around so quickly as Dufner did.
Take a look at this list:
- 1910 U.S. Open -- Alex Smith beat John McDermott and brother Macdonald Smith in a playoff. McDermott won the U.S. Open the very next year.
- 1913 U.S. Open -- Francis Ouimet shocked the golf world by beatin Harry Vardon and Ted Ray for the title. Vardon won the U.S. Open in 1914.
- 1923 PGA Championship -- Gene Sarazen beat Walter Hagen in 38 holes in their final match. Hagen responded by ripping off four consecutive PGA titles.
- 1939 PGA Championship -- Harry Picard took out Byron Nelson in 37 holes, then Nelson came back the next year to win the Wanamaker.
- 1939 U.S. Open -- Byron Nelson bested Craig Wood and Denny Shute in a playoff. Wood won in 1941.
- 1966 Masters -- Jack Nicklaus beat Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs for the green jacket. Brewer won his in 1967.
- 1971 U.S. Open -- Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus in an outstanding playoff at Merion. A year later, Nicklaus won the Open.
- 1979 Masters -- Fuzzy Zoeller won the Masters in his first try, beating Tom Watson and Ed Sneed in a playoff. Watson won the '81 Masters.
- 2011 PGA Championship -- Keegan Bradley shocks the world and beats Jason Dufner for his first major in his first try. Dufner wins the Wanamaker two years later.