Valhalla preparation a pain in the neck for Dufner

Wed Aug 6, 2014 1:04pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) - Most golfers are meticulous when it comes to preparing for tournaments but Jason Dufner has had to abandon his usual attention to detail ahead of this week's PGA Championship because of a lingering neck injury.

Dufner has been severely hampered by two bulging disks in his neck since April and will launch his title defense at the year's final major in Thursday's opening round at Valhalla Golf Club after seeing very little of the par-71 course in practice.

"It's an arthritic, degenerative issue that I'm probably going to be dealing with for a good bit," American Dufner told reporters on Wednesday. "It's just something that's not going to change. I'm going to have to deal with it.

"I had an epidural last Monday. They like you to rest seven to 10 days after that. I haven't really been able to do that, so I'm trying to rest, keep my reps down. I feel sore. I get a little fatigued quicker than usual.

"I'm probably not going to be healthy until I can take six to eight weeks off. Not sure when that's going to be, but I'll get through it. Obvious reasons for playing this week; defending (the title) is pretty important to me."

Dufner, who won his first major with a two-shot victory in last year's PGA Championship at Oak Hill, has no idea how he will fare this week at Valhalla after such limited preparation for his title defense.

"I have not seen the golf course," the 37-year-old said. "I haven't played the golf course as of yet. I walked nine holes yesterday, and plan on playing nine this afternoon. That's about the extent that I know.

"It's just lack of mobility, the shoulder turn gets pretty restricted, pretty short, and fatigue," Dufner replied when asked how the injury affected his golf. "Those are the things I deal with a little bit.   Continued...

PGA golfer Jason Dufner speaks at a press conference during practice for the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Country Club on August 6, 2014. USA TODAY Sports/Brian Spurlock