If Jason Dufner is to win PGA Championship, he must tame Oak Hill's toughest stretch

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Dufner is leading the PGA Championship and he'll now need to avoid damage over the closing stretch to hang on.

Jason Dufner has been unflappable for most of this week and he'll need those steady nerves if he's going to hold on to win the 2013 PGA Championship. Dufner leads by two strokes heading into Oak Hill's difficult closing stretch.

The stretch from No. 15 to No. 18 includes three of the four hardest holes on the course. It all begins with the 181-yard par-3 15th hole. No. 15 has played as the fourth-hardest this week, yielding the fourth-fewest birdies of any hole. Dufner has managed to avoid issues on the 15th thus far with three pars this week.

The 16th is the only legitimate birdie hole coming in, playing as the eighth-easiest hole this week. Dufner has played No. 16 at 2-under and another birdie could give him some cushion heading into the brutal final two holes.

No. 17 has given players fits all week, playing as the hardest hole on the course. It's also been the second-hardest hole in the final round. Dufner bogeyed the 17th on Thursday with pars in the second and third rounds. Assuming he's able to leave No. 17 with the lead, all Dufner has to do is avoid trouble on the second-hardest hole for the win.

The 497-yard 18th is playing slightly easier on Sunday, but is still the second-hardest hole for the tournament and the fourth-hardest in the final round. Dufner bogeyed the final hole in the first round and narrowly escaped with par on Friday and Saturday. He nearly missed short par putts each day, possibly setting up a nerve-wracking must-make for the championship.

He stubbed a short par putt on Friday and his ball needed a late left turn to drop on Saturday.

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Short putts have been an issue again in the final round as he just caught the lip to save par earlier.

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The first major championship victory of his career is within reach, and all he has to do is not falter on the two hardest holes. Those final 1,000 yards in two par-4s to finish are capable of wiping away any lead. No big deal.

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