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PGA Tour Confidential: Jason Dufner beats Ernie Els in playoff at Zurich Classic

Jason Dufner, final round, 2012 Zurich Classic
Kohjiro Kinno / SI
Jason Dufner won his first PGA Tour event in 164 career starts.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Jason Dufner, likable journeyman, and Ernie Els, likable Hall of Famer, were in the playoff for the New Orleans title. Who were you rooting for and what does it say about you?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The Duff, all the way. I aspire to be that cool.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Interesting question. I was a little torn. It would have been nice to see Ernie get one after his struggles, but I also wanted to see Dufner break through. He's had his disappointments, but he can play. Guess I leaned toward Dufner.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Dufner. The first win is the toughest and the best. Nice to see someone break through and succeed.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I was rooting for Dufner. He's on my rotisserie league team. Did I mention that I'm in what I believe is the world's longest-running golf pool (dating to 1986)? Plus, the guy is getting married next week. Talk about putting a damper on the nuptials if he had lost.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Ernie. Feel like he's running out of sunny days out there.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Els. Too likable to see him keep losing.

Bamberger: You couldn't go wrong, which was a nice problem to have. I love Dufner's style. Love it. But Ernie seems to playing for a higher cause -- the Autism Awareness movement -- and I think that got the nod for me.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The real winner is always the game of golf. Or is it charity? I don't know. I just wanted one of them to hit the shot that won it, not that shot that lost it.

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Jeff Ritter, senior producer, I was pulling for The Waggle -- wish I could appear that cool under pressure. Dufner was close at the PGA last year, and it feels like this week could launch the final push to a breakthrough at a major in the next year or two.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Ernie. Walked with him for the last six holes. I actually caught myself saying "yes" aloud and making a little fist pump after Ernie made par putt on 17 for par. I don't ever remember reacting like that -- we are trained to be so stoic! Dufner had just made a 43-foot bomb on 16, and Ernie had to have heard the roar behind him, and it was just as he was stepping in to putt. I thought the cheer may have rattled him. Obviously it didn't.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I love Duff, but today I sided with Ernie, just because of the insanity he's endured with the putting, and because the majors will be more interesting if another Hall of Famer can get into the mix.

Van Sickle: I was suitably impressed with how well Ernie kept his putting stroke together most of the final round. He made some key putts. So did Dufner, who has gotten a little shaky with that club, too, although he wished a couple of clutch ones in. It's no fun to watch any pro struggle with the putter. Great to see Ernie making them again like he used to.

Godich: Even if he's making them with the type of putter he swore off a few years back.

Wei: It was a win-win scenario. Happy to see Dufner get that monkey off his back. He's a good dude. Everyone says he's a lot more interesting than he comes across on television, and he's very witty. Definitely came through in his presser Sunday. Asked where he was going for his honeymoon, he deadpanned, "The Players. TPC Sawgrass. You ever been there? It's got that island green..."

Lipsey: What a bummer for Ernie. Another putt to win, another miss. Ugh.

Godich: Kudos for his being able to laugh about it. He said he hit a bad putt, but it was better than the one he missed at the Transitions. No wonder the guy is so popular. Tiger could learn something there.

Wei: Els putted beautifully this week, otherwise. No 3-putts! Baby steps.

Lipsey: Els missed the only putt that really mattered, the one to win. That's hard to swallow. Hope he can keep at it, in spite of the misses.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Were you pulling for Dufner or Els in the playoff? Why?

Bamberger: Mark raises an interesting point about the impending nuptials for Mr. and Mrs. Duff. Let's say you're a married Tour player. Would you want your wife to have a career of her own -- teacher, lawyer, doctor, something where you have to be someplace everyday -- or would you prefer to have your wife traveling the Tour with you?

Gorant: I'd prefer that she be an LPGA star and I travel with her.

Godich: In this day and age, why couldn't she do both?

Bamberger: No, Mark, you have wimped out here. You're young. You play 29 events. What's it going to be?

Godich: OK, I'd want her to have her own career, so that we're guaranteed a check from week to week.

Hack: I'd want her to have her own career, interests and dreams. I imagine she would, too.

Bamberger: I agree, Damon, but it's actually very hard either way. Tough on a marriage to be apart that much, but it's probably even harder to always be in the "support" role, at least in this century. These lives are not as easy as they look on Sunday afternoons, watching TV.

Hack: Nah, in this scenario, I'm only playing 15 events a year. You know, after I win the Grand Slam I won't need to grind as much.

Wei: It gets real lonely out here. Twenty-nine events a year, going back to that hotel room and ordering room service alone gets old. Ninety-nine percent of players want their wives with them. I know a guy who broke up with his girlfriend because she wanted a part-time job of some sort.

Lipsey: If we had a family, stay home. Can't be fun dragging a family around the Tour.

Van Sickle: Everybody's different. Would be fun to have a wife along at some of the fun tour stops. The other ones, she finds out that a Marriott is a Marriott and a Macaroni Grill is a Macaroni Grill no matter where you go. There is a numbing sameness in dining options. I'd say go it alone during the week, have the wife come in for the weekend.

Morfit: I'd prefer she had her own thing but only until I bought my first Gulfstream.

Shipnuck: A flexible job, like, say, running a high-end lingerie boutique. Gives her an identity and a creative outlet, but she can also get away to nicer Tour stops.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: If you were a Tour player, would your wife work, or follow you from stop to stop?

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