Friday, May 25, 2018

Defending PGA champ Jason Dufner ailing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jason Dufner knows what he needs to do. Exercise more. Eat healthier. Lose a few pounds.

The defending PGA Championship champion arrived at Valhalla with an aching neck and not much hope of lifting the Wanamaker Trophy for the second year in a row. At best, he hopes to play well enough to lock up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team and then take time off.

"I feel sore," he said Wednesday. "But I'll get through it."

Dufner said his pain is due to a degenerative arthritic condition that flared up about the time of the Masters in April. But he also blames himself for not staying in better condition.

"To be honest, it's kind of a blessing," said Dufner, whose practice time this week was limited to walking nine holes and playing the other nine. "I need to take a serious look at my health and maybe make a better effort to be in better shape. If you don't have your health … it's pretty hard to be competitive out here."

Dufner, 37, had an injection early last week, then tied for 66th in the Bridgestone Invitational. He believes the only way to fully recover is to take six to eight weeks off, yet he doesn't think he can do that with automatic qualifying for September's Ryder Cup to be determined by the final major of the year.

Dufner is eighth in the points and figures he needs to earn one of the nine automatic spots to be on the team. Given his shaky health, he wouldn't expect to be one of the three picks by U.S. captain Tom Watson.

Kaymer reveals shoulder issue: Martin Kaymer, wire-to-wire winner this year of the Players Championship and the U.S. Open, said a sore shoulder contributed to his 8-over finish at the British Open. "It just came out of nowhere," he said. "Like everyone else, once in a while you wake up and you have something, and that happened to me, unfortunately, the week of the Open." It kept him from proper practice, he said. "But now, everything is fine,'' he said.

BIG HITTER: 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen won the long drive competition Tuesday, using his state-of-the-art metal driver with a graphite shaft to strike a solid-core golf ball 340 yards. Jack Nicklaus won in 1963 using a wooden driver and a wound ball. His winning drive was 341 yards. Oosthuizen was asked to explain the difference: "He's won 18 majors. I've only won one."

2016 tourney moved: The PGA Championship will be moved to late July from August in two years to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics. The 2016 event will be July 28-31 at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., 11 days after the British Open. The Olympics are Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Ryder Cup also will be played in 2016.