Smile please Jason . . . you’re on camera!
Jason Dufner might be among the most talented of golfers but he might also be the most unenthusiastic.He is to golf what Geoff Boycott was cricket. Dour.His stoicism could almost be translated to miserable.Dufner could barely raise a smile after winning the fourth major the of year last Sunday, the PGA Championships, thus earning a place in the Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal in October. It looked it was too much of an effort.It could be his persona is completely different once when he steps off the course, and he may be something of a philanthropist. It isn’t unusual for golfers to give to worthwhile charities.He might a very pleasant man. But he certainly doesn’t show it as he trudges from one hole to the next.He displays little emotion, going about his business in a workmanlike fashion and wearing the same deadpan expression whether he hits a good shot or a bad one.In ‘the zone’ analysts like to call it.But one suspects the likes of commentators David Feherty and Gary McCord might offer a different description, given their own lighthearted approach to life.There was no sign of excitement as Dufner picked the ball out of the cup on the 18th hole, not even when he hoisted the trophy.It was the same when he pulled off a miraculous approach shot that spun back in the hole for an unlikely eagle.For Duff, it was just another stroke to add to the card.Nick Faldo described him as being ‘cool as a cucumber’. He’s about as charismatic as the same cucumber.It’s as if playing golf is a chore with he’d rather avoid.Perhaps he doesn’t realise that there are millions around the would who dearly swap places, doing what they enjoy most, laughing all the way to the bank every Sunday.Sure, players get frustrated and angry when things aren’t going their way. But most can shrug it off fairly quickly.The other Slam invitees, Masters winner, Adam Scott, US Open Justin Rose and British Open winner Phil Mickelson, are all popular with the galleries because the fans can identify with them.Maybe all three realise at the end of the day it’s only a game.It would be nice if Dufner could be as personable as his partners when the exhibition tournament tees off later this year.The beauty of the Slam is that it isn’t intense as the PGA tournaments, the players can share a joke and enjoy the banter with spectators with little pressure to perform.A lot of money is stake but to be realistic the cash doesn’t mean an awful lot. They pick up 200 grand for finishing last.If Port Royal’s signature hole, the 16th, doesn’t bring a smile to Dufner’s face, then nothing will.* * * *Last week’s column — ‘Is Janeiro Tucker the best Cup Match batsman ever?’ — appears to have stirred some debate.The record books show that Tucker has amassed more runs than anyone else, has the highest individual score, and is the only player to have scored four centuries.But for some that’s not enough.They point out that Tucker never had to face the spin of Clarence Parfitt, or pacers such as Adrian King, Winston ‘Coe’ Trott, Anthony Edwards or El James to name but a few.They argue that these days the bowling is, at best, mediocre.And given the appalling deliveries thrown down by St. George’s bowlers on the first day of Cup Match this year, there’s may be some substance to that argument.However, at the end of the day it’s all subjective — much like the debate over whether Pele was better than Maradona or better than Lionel Messi.They all played in different eras alongside different players. Making comparisons is futile.It’s the same with Tucker. He has excelled as a batsmen, bowler and fielder, and he’s done it here and overseas.Whether he’s the best is open to opinion.But on paper he’s the best. The statistics don’t lie.