MJ Daffue watches his shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the US Open golf tournament.
MJ Daffue’s problems at the US Open began on a cheap piece of carpeting in a hospitality suite left of the 14th fairway.
If only that had been the worst of it.
There was nothing about Daffue’s shot off the deck of the hospitality suite that could’ve predicted his freefall from 6-under par and a three-shot lead to outside the top 10 by the end of his second round. He hit that shot over the railing, then sailed it some 250 yards to the rough left of the green, about even with the pin.
But he duffed the first pitch shot and made bogey. He followed with another bogey on No. 15, then clipped a ball clean from a greenside bunker on No. 18 to finish with a double bogey there.
The South African shot 2-over 72 and closed his day at 1-under after spending most of the morning alone in the lead.
“A crazy battle,” Daffue said.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed. But you expect at some stage during the week in the US Open, the golf course is going to come and please us.”
MJ Daffue went from leading the US Open to being outside the top-10 at the end of his second round.
It’s hardly the worst Daffue has been through.
A story on the PGA Tour website details the depression and doubt that have been part of Daffue’s life over the last decade. It began when his future mother-in-law died in a freak accident. It continued when the financial pressure of making a living playing golf became almost too much.
More recently, he suffered with a bout of Covid-19. But golf, and life, have got better of late. A series of strong finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour has helped him secure his PGA Tour card for 2022-23. He wrapped that up in time to play in a US Open qualifier that had not originally been on his schedule.
MJ Daffue has battled tough times before his star turn at the US Open.
He came into the week ranked 296th. Some of the best advice he’s received over the years has come from someone in his country who knows a little about US Opens. Two-time champion Retief Goosen has been a mentor to Daffue.
“He’s given me simple advice,” Daffue said. “It’s not trying to do too much. Hit to the middle of greens. Stay within yourself and focus on the six feet directly surrounding you.”