PGA Champions are What They Eat

Area chef fuels pro golfer’s Merion run.

Jason Dufner, the professional golfer known for his laid-back demeanor and hangdog facial expressions, is a rising star on the PGA circuit. “Dufnering”—the art of laying back and taking it easy—has become a much-imitated craze in the past year. Fellow golfers Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson sent chuckles through the Twitter world with dead-on impersonations of their pal.

All kidding aside, “JDuf” is finally being recognized more for his on-course actions and results. He’s logged numerous top-10 finishes in major events and had a 3-1 record as a Ryder Cup rookie in 2012. He joined golf’s elite with a win at the PGA Championship in 2013. 

But his final-day surge at the U.S. Open at Merion this past summer may have been his most impressive effort yet—and it came with a little help from chef Drew Abruzzese and his culinary magic. 

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Thanks to friends and acquaintances who knew Dufner’s agent, Abruzzese was asked to cook for the golfer and his family during the U.S. Open, at the Radnor home Dufner was renting from a Merion member during the event.

Abruzzese certainly has the chops to cook for the stars. As owner and executive chef of the Pineville Tavern in Bucks County, Pa., he’s won numerous awards, and his restaurant was even featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

“Jason and his wife, Amanda, are some of the nicest people you can imagine,” says Abruzzese. “We got to hang out after cooking some nights. We even watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs together. I was asked to keep the menu healthy and organic, which was easy to do with all the fresh farm ingredients available that time of year. Lots of greens and vegetables, lean meats. The only night we cheated alittle was Saturday night, with one of our pappardelle Bolognese.”

The next day, Dufner lit up the stingy Merion course with six birdies—the most of any golfer during the tournament, putting him in contention for the victory.
Just one bad hole down the stretch left Dufner in an impressive yet disappointing tie for fourth. But winning the PGA Championship a few months later surely helped ease his pain.

The cooking connection worked out so well, Abruzzese has been asked back for an encore. “We’ll definitely be heading down to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June to cook for Jason again this year—and maybe for another major,” he says.

(left) Jason Dufner (right) the famous Pineville pasta

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