Here are 5 Things to take away from Zach Johnson’s one-shot victory over Jason Dufner to win his second Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial title:
1. BACK FOR MORE: Zach Johnson became the 12th multple winner at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. He also won at Colonial in 2010.
Despite a two-shot penalty after the last putt had dropped because Johnson did not move his ball back to its initial position on the 18th green – he had marked it to move it out of Jason Dufner’s line – Johnson was the steadier of the golfers over the final nine holes in winning his eighth career PGA Tour title.
“I’m going to focus on the positives, because I hit a really solid putt and it’s a good thing I made it,” said Johnson, who won $1,152,000. “No harm, no foul. It was my fault.”
Johnson fired a 2-over 72 and took advantage of Dufner’s double-bogey on No. 9 and triple-bogey on No. 15.
In what became a match-play-like afternoon, Johnson had his rough moments – including a bogey at No. 12, where he took two shots to get out of a fairway bunker – but a birdie at No. 14 and a simple par at No. 15 gave him a four-shot lead that he would never relinquish.
Johnson was first in the field in putts per round (25.5), third in birdies (19) and third in strokes gained putting (2.092).
It was Johnson’s fourth career victory in the state of Texas, with three others coming in Georgia (including the 2007 Masters) and one in Hawaii.
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2. OUT OF GAS: Coming off wins at the Byron Nelson Championship and Zurich Classic, Jason Dufner was the odds-on favorite to take the title on Sunday. But, a blow-up back-nine kept Dufner from the winner’s circle for the third time in five weeks – firing a 4-over 74 on Sunday to finish alone in second.
Dufner hit the water twice over the final 10 holes – at Nos. 9 and 15 – and looked out of energy after the latter. With a chance to at least save bogey on No. 15, he dropped next to the green and chipped it past the hole and the ball kept running, eventually coming to rest in the fairway in front of the green. He’d chip to about three feet, but yanked the putt to the left and settled for triple-bogey, effectively handing the tournament to Johnson.
The par-5 11th was an unusual problem hole for Dufner at Colonial, picking up rare par-5 bogeys in both the first and final rounds.
“Pretty good run, today obviously a little disappointing to play that poorly and not kind of a chance there at the end,” said Dufner, insisting fatigue didn’t come into play. “I feel pretty good actually. … I just played really poorly today.”
Dufner led the field in birdies (22), plus was third in greens in regulation and fourth in putts per green in regulation. For a player that struggled with his putter prior to his hot streak, it has Dufner’s inaccuracy off the tee that cost him on Sunday. He only hit three fairways.
Regardless of the loss, Dufner is atop the FedEx Cup standings heading to Memorial next week.
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3. OH RICKIE, YOU’RE PLAYING SO FINE: With the U.S. Open only two weeks away, Rickie Fowler has to be on the short lists of favorites due to his recent play.
Coming off finishes of 10th (Zurich Classic), a win (Wells Fargo) and a T-2 (Players Championship), Fowler picked up his fifth top-10 finish of the season with a T-5 at Colonial.
Fowler only had four top-10s in all of 2011, while having seven in 2010 (his rookie season).
It was Fowler’s best finish at Colonial in three appearances, placing T-16 in 2011 and T-38 in 2010.
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4. WHAT’S UP, WATNEY? Sure, Nick Watney has made 12 of 13 cuts this season and has a pair of top-10 finishes.
But, coming off a breakout season where he won twice (WGC-Cadillac and AT&T National) and had a second-place finish (Justin Timberlake Shriners), simply making the cut wasn’t the expectation for Watney in 2012.
His performance at Colonial was good enough to play the weekend, but after five double-bogeys over the four days, Watney finished dead last at 10 over.
He has also finished six tournaments at over par, with this week his worst of the season. He has shot in the 60s in only 12 of his 46 rounds this season.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey had 20 birdies – second-best in the field – en route to a solo third-place finish at 7 under. Gainey’s best 2012 finish was a T-40 at the Wells Fargo and had missed eight cuts this season. . . . Former Player of the Year Jim Furyk picked up his third top-10 finish of the season by taking solo fourth at 6 under, carding four rounds in the 60s. . . . Harris English started the week hot, qualifying for the British Open with a blistering 60, and then started Colonial with a 65. He cooled off in the middle rounds, but still finished T-5 behind a Sunday 67.