Jason Dufner, whose slumped, indifferent posture became a national social media sensation under Twitter’s “Dufnering” hashtag, faces a sizeable PGA Tour fine and possible suspension for conduct unbecoming a professional golfer.
According to a well-placed source with direct knowledge of PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem’s thinking and speaking exclusively to GeoffShackelford.com, Dufner’s objectionable sitting position, zoned-out expression and subversive arm-tuck during a Dallas-area school photo-opportunity fueled unacceptable copycats around the country. Tweets by Dufner peers Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald distracted fans from last week’s Shell Houston Open and even had Finchem considering fines for the copycat Tweeters before he was talked out of that idea.
“Finchem felt the Dufner photo appearing on Deadspin was way worse than what Vijay [Singh] did and said Dufner even makes Tiger look like a choir boy because he dragged other players into this,” reports the source, who said a tour vice president pulled out his cell phone and offered to read some Tiger text messages to Joslyn James before Finchem rescinded the comment. “Some people in the room tried to explain to him that it was helping the image of the tour by having players showing a whimsical side on social media, but he wouldn't have it. Finchem insisted after reading Dufner's explanation that Duf was a ‘subversive’ and needed to be taught a lesson. I haven’t seen him this angry since he found out his hair colorist was moving to Daytona.”
The source, who was privy to last Friday’s emergency PGA Tour discussions, said Finchem received pushback from several of his lieutenants for the first time since 2008 when he announced that their annual pay raises would not exceed 20% due to the stock market collapse. In the case of Dufner, the underlings expressed concern about negative publicity from a player suspension for seemingly harmless behavior, predicting that word of the normally secret fines would get out. Finchem strongly disagreed with those assembled in a tour headquarters conference room so much so that he reportedly went to a nearby wall and attempted to replicate “Dufnering.” Eventually after struggling to get the positioning to his satisfaction, Finchem jumped back up and declared, “I just don’t think this is funny in any way, especially around young fans and possible future First Tee participants!”
Dufner is likely to be notified of Finchem’s decision as soon as Tuesday. Meanwhile, when asked the status of the tour’s investigation into Vijay Singh’s admitted purchase and use of a banned substance under the PGA Tour doping policy, the source said it could be a year before Finchem feels assured that Singh wasn’t framed by Sports Illustrated.
This would explain a purported April 1, 2014 deadline Finchem has set for an end to the Singh investigation.