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Johnson Overcomes Dufner To Win At Colonial

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FORT WORTH (AP) – Zach Johnson won the Colonial for his first victory since also winning at Hogan’s Alley two years ago, pulling ahead Sunday when Jason Dufner finally faltered.

Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty for failing to replace his ball to its original position after marking it on the 18th hole. That left him with a 2-over 72 and a one-stroke victory.

“I’m going to focus on the positives, because I hit a really solid putt and it’s a good thing I made it,” Johnson said. “No harm, no foul. It was my fault.”

Johnson moved his original ball mark out of the line of Dufner’s putt on the 18th green. But he forgot to move it back before his final 5-foot putt.

Even with the penalty assessed before signing his scorecard, Johnson’s 12-under 268 total was enough to edge Dufner, who closed with a 74.

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

In what was essentially a match-play final round for the winner’s plaid jacket, Johnson took command at the 414-yard 15th hole. Dufner’s approach hit the left side of that green then rolled into a ditch, leading to a triple bogey that put him four strokes back after Johnson’s par.

It was the eighth PGA Tour victory for Johnson, who won $1,152,000. The 2007 Masters champion’s record streak of 15 consecutive under-par rounds at Colonial ended.

Dufner’s only two PGA Tour victories came in the last 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.

“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.”

There had already been four two-stroke swings between Dufner and Johnson before that fateful 15th hole.

Dufner drove into a fairway bunker before the shot that trickled over a ledge into the water. 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. With his feet together to keep from falling over himself, Johnson’s pitch from about 81 feet rolled only inches from the cup to set up a tap-in par-saver.

A hole earlier, Johnson had regained the lead with a 9-foot birdie putt at the 445-yard 14th after having blown a two-stroke lead.

At the 616-yard 11th, a straight par 5, Johnson’s drive to the left 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. He had to punch a low shot around the branches before hitting his approach into a greenside bunker and two-putting from 23 feet for 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. He settled for a bogey after a 90-foot shot out of the fringe settled about a foot past the hole.

Dufner and Johnson were tied at 14 under going to the back nine after Dufner’s double bogey at the 386-yard par 4 ninth hole, where his approach from 103 yards hit just short of the green and rolled back into the water.

In a rare and still slight show of frustration, Dufner slapped his hands together when the ball came up short before his first double bogey in 147 holes.

It looked as if Johnson was the one in trouble at the ninth, when his drive settled in the rough. He had an awkward stance, with one foot in the bunker the ball just missed, when he hit his approach to 15 feet. And he almost made birdie, but the putt lipped the cup and rolled away.

After both started with disappointing pars at the easiest hole on the course, the opening par 5, there was a two-stroke swing at the 382-yard second hole that cost Dufner his lead.

Dufner drove into a fairway bunker on the left side, then three-putted from 28 feet for his first bogey on any of the first eight holes all week. Johnson made a 28-foot birdie putt to go in front by a stroke.

At No. 5, Dufner made an 8-footer for his third birdie of the week at the tight par 4 parallel to the Trinity River that is one of Colonial’s toughest holes. Even after a frustrating tee shot into the rough at the sixth hole, Dufner regained the lead by rolling in a 34-foot birdie putt.

Johnson trailed by two strokes when his tee shot at the 188-yard eighth was way left before his short pitch shot missed the green and he bogeyed.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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