Johnson overcomes Dufner to win at Colonial

Associated Press + More

By STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Zach Johnson had already shared celebratory hugs and kisses with his two young sons and talked about his Colonial victory on television.

Then caddie Damon Green, prompted by a rules official, asked Johnson if he had properly remarked his ball before his final putt Sunday.

"First time it crossed my mind," said Johnson, who then began to wonder if he had cost himself a victory.

Johnson had failed to put his ball back on its original mark after moving it out of the line of Jason Dufner's last putt. But even with a two-stroke penalty, Johnson won by one and got to slip on the plaid jacket for his first victory since also winning at Hogan's Alley two years ago.

The penalty was assessed before he signed his scorecard for a 2-over 72. Johnson's 12-under 268 total was enough to edge Dufner, who finally faltered and closed with a 74.

After being so caught up in the emotion of another Colonial title and a victory in honor of Green's late father, Johnson luckily didn't have to worry about regrouping to play more.

"Let's just count it as a hypothetical and move on," he said. "It wouldn't have been easy. ... I had a lot of emotion running and draining through me. I would like to think that I could gather myself and go back out there and perform."

Not to mention that Johnson hit out of turn on the 18th tee.

"Fortunately Dufner is forgiving," Johnson said.

That was the strange ending to what was essentially a match-play final round, with Johnson taking command after a triple bogey by Dufner at the 414-yard 15th hole created a four-stroke gap. There had already been four holes with two-stroke swings between the two before that.

Dufner's only two PGA Tour victories came in the previous four weeks, a stretch when he also got married.

After winning last week at the Byron Nelson Championship, he was trying to match Ben Hogan, his hero, as the only players to win both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the same year. Hogan did it in 1946, when the tournaments weren't played in consecutive weeks.

"Zach played better than I did today. ... He was able to grind it out a little better and not make doubles and triples like I did," said Dufner, describing his poor play as disappointing. "He deserves the jacket, and the trophy and the win. But that is definitely one of the weirdest finishes I would think on the PGA Tour that anybody has seen."

Tommy Gainey was a distant third at 7 under after a 67, a stroke better than Jim Furyk.

Johnson's eighth PGA Tour victory earned him $1,152,000 even as the 2007 Master champion's record streak of 15 consecutive under-par rounds at Colonial ended.

The victory came 10 days after Green's 88-year old father died from stomach cancer. After Johnson's runner-up finish at The Players Championship two weeks ago, the caddie drove to Pensacola, Fla., to see his father. But Damon Green was ready to get back on the course this week.

"He wanted to be here, he felt like his dad wanted him to be here," Johnson about his caddie of 10 years. "I think he's the one that deserves this one more than I do. His courage and certainly his strength to get through last week and then work, and work well this week, to stay focused somehow. That's really commendable."

At the deciding 15th hole, Dufner's approach hit the left side of that green then trickled over the ledge into a drainage canal. He then pitched his drop all the way over the green and missed a 4-foot putt for double bogey.

Johnson made par at the same hole where a day earlier his approach settled into a grassy clump only inches from going into that ditch and he had saved par after his approach rolled only inches from the cup.

Johnson had blown a two-stroke lead Sunday before going back ahead with a 9-foot birdie putt at the 445-yard 14th.

At the 616-yard 11th, a straight par 5, Johnson's drive hit a tree and ricocheted back into the middle of the fairway. He took advantage with an 18 1/2-foot birdie putt to get to 15 under. Dufner wasn't as fortunate with his wayward drive, which settled under a tree before he went on for a bogey.

But Dufner needed only one hole to get even again, with an 8-foot birdie at No. 12. Johnson hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker, then his first attempt out of there hit the lip and rebounded over and behind him before a bogey.

Johnson led for the first time with a 28-foot birdie at the 382-yard second hole, where Dufner three-putted from the same distance.

Dufner regained the lead with consecutive birdies, starting with an 8-footer for his third birdie of the week at the tight par-4 fifth parallel to the Trinity River that is one of Colonial's toughest holes.

A bogey by Johnson at No. 8 had down by two. But they went to the back nine tied at 14 under, after Dufner's approach from 103 yards at the par-4 ninth hit short of the green and rolled back into the water and he made double bogey.

"There's a number of adjectives I'm calling myself right now. And lucky would be the biggest one," Johnson said. "Blessed would be another one, humbled would be another one. It's an honor to put this jacket on once. ... I'm in shock I got it twice."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.