A semi-new breathing technique helped Jason Dufner make more putts and win the Memorial, and it's an easy trick amateurs can use to steady their games as well.
Dufner, who won the Memorial with a final-round 68 Sunday, talked about his new military-style breathing method while speaking to the media after his second round Friday. Dufner opened with back-to-back 65s and led by five. (He dropped off with a Saturday 77 but rebounded Sunday to win by three.)
His strong wedge play put him in position to score, and he made enough putts to win for the first time this year. Through two rounds he was 30 of 32 from inside 10 feet and Dufner, not known for his putting prowess, finished 47th in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week.
But Dufner's new routine started when a friend sent him a study completed by a doctor who works with snipers in the Marines. It detailed how they focus on their breathing to slow their heartbeat down. Dufner now does the same while standing over putts, and he said it also helps because it gives him something else to think about "other than my stroke or holing this putt or the situation I'm in."
"I'm just focused on my breathing," he said. "That's a conscious thought for me and then I let the putt and the motion of the stroke be subconscious and natural. I read the putt, get a feel for the line, and as soon as I'm over the ball all I'm thinking about is my breathing and not trying to make putts or anything."
Dufner said he's never been measured on it, but it seems to be working.
"I know that there's been times with my putting that the thought process and my actions have felt like they've been sped up and too quick," he said. "And I'm trying to slow down and focus on that breathing. It's been working. I've been using it all year. This is the first time I've said anything about it. Some days I'm better with it than others. You think it would be pretty easy to be consistent with that, but some days it's not."