Jason Dufner was sitting in a classroom with children for a charity event when he leaned against a wall and zoned out for a minute. That’s all it took for one photo that went viral and made Dufner a Twitter sensation.
Dufner, dressed in a red golf shirt, is shown slouched against the wall at J. Erik Jonsson Community School in Dallas, next to two children who are listening intently to the teacher. His legs are erect, his arms stiff at his side, and he has a vacant look on his face. Dufner is known for showing little emotion, even with a major championship at stake. He looks even more lifeless in this photo.
“Just caught me at a perfect time,” Dufner said Friday from Auburn, Ala. “The funny thing about it is the photo taken represents how I act all the time. It was a sheer moment of ‘Jason Dufner’ by whoever captured the moment for the 30 seconds I checked out.”
That would be Christine Lee of KXAS-TV, a video journalist for the NBC affiliate in Dallas who was covering Dufner’s appearance at the school.
Dufner won the Byron Nelson Championship last year. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which runs the tournament, directs some of its charitable proceeds to the school for disadvantaged children. To drum up publicity as the defending champion, Dufner made an appearance at the school Thursday.
He never imagined where it would lead.
Lee took a photo of Dufner in that perfect moment and gave it to sports anchor David Watkins, who posted it to Twitter.
Among those who saw it was Keegan Bradley, who beat Dufner in a playoff for the 2011 PGA Championship and has been engaged in friendly banter over the last month. It took off from there.
Dufner’s name became a verb. It’s call “dufnering.”
Luke Donald tweeted a photo of a pillow under his shirt as he slouched against the wall in his home. Rory McIlroy was dufnering in his hotel room, and he couldn’t stop talking about it Friday at the Houston Open. At one point in his round, he walked behind the 13th green, saw a reporter and said, “Did you see the Dufner photo? How good is that? That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Those who think it’s an example of a professional golfer who couldn’t be bothered spending time in a classroom with children were missing the point. Dufner always looks that way. Even in the PGA playoff at Atlanta Athletic Club, he didn’t appear to have a pulse.
In an era when players don’t always return to the cities where they won, Dufner participated in two media days in one week. He was in New Orleans on Wednesday (the Zurich Open was his first PGA Tour win), and then headed to Dallas for the classroom.
“They were talking about focusing and relaxation,” Dufner said, a master at the latter. “They have some big test coming up for the class on ways to relax and concentrate. And I guess I took it to another level.”