Jason Dufner back in the winner’s circle

Dufner beat David Lingmerth in a playoff for the CareerBuilder Challenge

Jason Dufner back in the winner's circle
Jason Dufner back in the winner's circle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A couple of good breaks saw Jason Dufner back in the winner’s circle after he defeated David Lingmerth in a playoff for the CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta.

Jason Dufner was leading through 54 holes at La Quinta, but a slow front nine of one-over-par on Sunday let the chasing pack back into the competition. The 38-year-old, looking for his first victory since the 2013 USPGA Championship, struck back though with three birdies in a row for the turn.

By the time he reached the tee of the island green, par-3 17th “Alcatraz”, Dufner was tied for the lead with David Lingmerth. The Swede made seven birdies and no bogeys in a superb closing round of 65.

Dufner looked to be in serious trouble when his pulled tee shot appeared destined for the water. But somehow it stayed dry in a sandy area between the rocks. He took full advantage and saved par. A par on the last was enough to force a playoff.

On the first extra hole (the par-4 18th,) Dufner again looked to be up against it as he found sand from the tee. He couldn’t go for the green so had to rely on his wedge play to save him. Lingmerth missed a 25-foot birdie try for the title then, having fired his third into within 10 feet, Dufner rolled his par putt home to extend the playoff.

The second extra hole was also on the 18th and this time it was Lingmerth who made the mistake. From the right rough, his second shot struck the rocks and found the water. Dufner found the green and two-putted for par. When Lingmerth missed his par effort, the title was Dufner’s.

4 Talking points from CareerBuilder Challenge

1 – This was a fourth PGA Tour victory for Jason Dufner and his first since the 2013 USPGA Championship. In the last two seasons he’s struggled, particularly with his putting and has been 90th and 88th in the FedEx Cup in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This performance has given him great confidence to push forward this year. "I'm excited for this year," Dufner said. "I'm excited to accomplish one of my goals this early in the year. I'm excited to keep playing well. I feel like I'm doing some really good stuff." He’s up to 60th on the Official World Golf Ranking, from 120th last week.

Jason Dufner swing sequence:

2 – This was the second time David Lingmerth has lost a playoff for this event. He was beaten by Brian Gay back in 2013. Lingmerth managed a best of the day 65 in the final round this time out and was keen to take the positives from his performance. “I’ve just got to focus on continuing to play the way I’ve been playing,” he said. He’s up to 36th on the Official World Golf Ranking and is the second placed Swede.

3 – It was a promising week for Phil Mickelson. In this, the first tournament he has played since splitting from coach Butch Harmon, Lefty finished in a tie for third after four solid rounds in the 60s. He will play in the next three straight events and will look to build on this showing. “This is a really good week for me for validation that I'm on the right track and that it's continuing to get better as I go along."

4 – It was a week of incredible scoring at La Quinta. Dufner and Lingmerth tied for the lead through 72-holes on 25-under-par, but no fewer than 61 players finished the week at 10-under-par or better. It’s a tough school out there – the cut (after 54-holes) came at nine-under-par. Luke Donald was among those who missed it.

Career Builder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation La Quinta, California Jan 21-24 Purse: $5,800,000, par 72

1    Jason Dufner (USA)    64    65    64    70    263    $1,044,000 2    David Lingmerth (Swe)    68    68    62    65    263    $626,400 T3    Andrew Loupe (USA)    66    66    67    68    267    $301,600 T3    Phil Mickelson (USA)    68    65    66    68    267    $301,600 T3    Kevin Na (USA)        71    66    62    68    267    $301,600 T6    Adam Hadwin (Can)    66    66    64    72    268    $194,300 T6    Luke List (USA)        68    68    66    66    268    $194,300 T6    Jamie Lovemark (USA)    65    65    65    73    268    $194,300 T9    Bill Haas (USA)        66    66    69    68    269    $162,400 T9    Si Woo Kim (Kor)        67    71    64    67    269    $162,400

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?