By Art Stricklin at GlobalGolfPost (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Zach Johnson derailed the Jason Dufner history express Sunday, denying him his third victory in four starts with a surprisingly nervous one-shot victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Johnson posted a final-round 72 to complete a 12-under-par 268 total, earning his second win at the event in three years.
He took a three-shot lead to the 18th hole and appeared to have won by three, but he moved his ball mark on the final hole and failed to replace it before putting out, a two-shot penalty for violating Rule 20-7, which turned his final-hole par into a double-bogey.
Dufner shot a final-round 74 for 269 while Tommy Gainey was solo third (67-273) and Jim Furyk fourth at 68-274.
Johnson's final four-foot putt turned out to be for the win, which he dedicated to his longtime caddie Damon Green, whose father passed away 10 days ago.
After the tournament, Johnson took the blame for failing to replace his mark. He also hit out of turn on the 18th tee, which did not incur a penalty.
"That's on me," Johnson said. "Damon was raking the bunker and never saw me move the coin and I never moved it back. There were a lot adjectives going through my head, lucky, fortunate, stupid, but it's a good thing I hit a solid putt."
"It was certainly one of the weirdest finishes on the PGA Tour, but he played better than me," Dufner said. "He deserved the win. It wasn't bad luck on my part, it was bad play."
The two-man duel turned on two watery mistakes by Dufner, both when he either had the lead or was tied.
After a short birdie miss on the par-3 eighth hole, which would have extended his lead on Johnson to three shots, Dufner put his tee ball in the rough on the par-4 ninth. But from 107 yards, his wedge approach came up short, bounced on the bank, and rolled back in the water.
A mediocre chip and two putts left him with a double-bogey and a tie with Johnson at 14 under.
After trading birdies and bogeys, the pair was tied again coming to the par-4 15th hole. Dufner made his second watery flaw, the one that cost him the tournament.
He put his tee shot in the bunker on the left side of the fairway and then, with 142 yards to the green, overshot his target. The approach hit the slope and rolled into the water behind the putting surface. He chipped his fourth shot off the green, put his fifth next to the pin and missed from five feet for a triple-bogey 7.
"It's tough," Dufner said, "a lot harder than finishing 40th every week. I have a new appreciation for it."
Full results from the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club.
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