From the PGA Tour : Johnson rises as Dufner slips at Colonial
In a finish with drama for emphasis American Zach Johnson made a par putt from under 2 meters on the 18th hole to clinch victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonialin Fort Worth, Texas.
Johnson thought he’d won by a resounding 3 strokes over fellow American Jason Dufner. Johnson was quickly corrected after he learned that he forgot to place his ball in its original position after moving it to allow Jason Dufner a better putting line on the green.
The result: A 3 stroke victory diminished to a 1 stroke victory none the less after a 2 stroke penalty. Johnson realized the error of his ways when he said: “I moved my mark, but I did not move it back. I guess if I would’ve missed it I don’t know what would’ve happened. I just feel very lucky. That’s all. As I said earlier there are a number of adjectives that I’m calling myself right now, and lucky is the biggest one I can think of.”
His caddie Damon was raking the bunker and not aware that Zach moved the mark enabling the mental error. Fortunately for Johnson it merely ended up being a footnote as his mishap still allowed him to slip on the winner’s plaid jacket on the 18th green.
There were 7 lead changes between Dufner and Johnson before it was all over as Johnson prevailed. Johnson’s stellar short game and steady play on the closing holes were a stark contrast to Dufner’s errant misadventures during the same stretch. Case in point, Dufner found water twice on his approach to the par 4, 15th hole leading to a devastating triple bogey 7. Johnson made par on 15 to seize a 4 stroke lead with 3 holes to play.
Regarding his near miss Dufnersaid: “Today, obviously, a little disappointing to play that poorly and not kind of have a chance there at the end. But it wasn’t meant to be today and that’s about it. I just played really poorly today.” Coming into the event Dufner was already the Tour’s hottest player with 2 wins in under a month.
Johnson had not tasted victory on Tour for almost two years until his triumph at Colonial on Sunday. Well regarded by his peers Johnson now has 8 wins including a major championship. He got off to a great start after the 1st round and shot a 6 under 64 (par 70) to take the lead. Dufner, not far behind only trailed by a single stroke along with Americans Harris English and Tom Gillis.
Johnson and Dufner continue to jockey for position during the 2nd round with Dufner taking the lead after the round shooting a 6 under 64 to post 11 under par. Zach on the other hand shot a respectable 3 under par in windy conditions to get to 9 under par and stay 2 stokes off Dufner’s lead. Dufner was asked to comment about his momentum at that point to which he said: “I feel like I have a lot of control over my golf ball. I feel I can hit a lot of different shots, high, low. Cut balls, draw balls, just depending on what the wind is giving me and where the hole locations are.”
Johnson was asked if he was looking forward to slowing Dufner down a little bit over the weekend. Avoiding the bait Zach said: “No, because it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter who I play with tomorrow. Certainly Jason and I are buddies. I will enjoy playing with him because he is a friend. It’s nothing more than that.”
The top of the leaderboard did not change after the 3rd round as it was now clear the Colonial was turning into the “Dufner-Johnson” show. Dufner carded a sensational 4 under par 66 to Johnson’s even better 5 under par 65. The two gentlemen were now 15 and 14 under par respectively. In fact they were so far ahead of 3rd place Tom Gillis you may have needed a pair of binoculars to spot him at 7 under par, a full 8 strokes back of Dufner.
Dufner wasn’t done in distancing himself from the field when he commented after the round: “Hopefully both of us can go out there tomorrow and increase that distance from them and make it kind of a 2 horse race on the back 9 tomorrow and give the fans and the people watching at home some good golf and some good theater.”
Johnson on the other hand was more measured and purposeful in his response: “It’s neither here nor there. I still got 18 more holes and that’s my focus. I totally anticipate Dufner to keep doing what he’s doing. There is a reason why his name is on top and has been on top.”
In the end Zach Johnson maintained the proper focus on Sunday all but sealed his win after taking a 4 stroke lead at the 15th hole. Dufner’s play was shaky at best as he found water on 9 and as chronicled earlier twice on the par 4, 15th. A grateful Johnson remembered his caddie’s father and number one fanwho passed away recently: “I spoke to him countless times, in person, and a couple of times on the phone. He was always in our corner. A very witty guy. Damon gets his wit from his dad. He lived a long great life and affected a number of people in a positive manner.”
Perhaps his spirit was present in cheering Johnson and Damon on. When all was said and done Johnson delivered and ended up giving his biggest fan one more win to cheer about even if he was watching from a different dimension.