Dufner, Johnson dominate at Colonial
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Jason Dufner matched playing partner Zach Johnson’s birdie putt on the 17th hole Saturday, then overcame a wayward final tee shot to save par and keep the lead at the Colonial.
Slowed by two late bogeys, Dufner shot a 4-under 66 in the third round for a 15-under 195 total.
That put him a stroke ahead of Johnson, who shot 65 to set up what could basically be a match-play final group Sunday for the winner’s plaid jacket. Tom Gillis was a distant third at 7 under after a 69.
Dufner, the winner last week in the Byron Nelson Championship about 30 miles away, is trying to win for the third time in five weeks. He also is trying to do something only Ben Hogan has done.
Hogan, Dufner’s hero, is the only player to win both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the same year. When he did it in 1946, they weren’t played in consecutive weeks.
The last player to win in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour was Tiger Woods in 2009. Nobody won more than two tournaments last season.
After bogeys at Nos. 14 and 16, Dufner’s approach at the 379-yard 17th rolled about 8 feet from the flag.
Johnson, within a stroke of the lead after a 17-foot birdie at the par-3 16th, followed Dufner at No. 17 with a shot to the same spot – his ball up and stopped against the one already on the green. After a rules official sorted out the marks, Johnson curled in a birdie putt. Dufner then did the same to keep his lead.
When his final tee shot of the day went way left, closer to the 10th fairway than the 18th, Dufner got his next shot on the green and two-putted from 68 feet to save par.
Dufner has led or shared the lead after 12 of his last 35 rounds, including five of the last seven.
Before winning at New Orleans on April 29, the 35-year-old Dufner was winless in his previous 163 PGA Tour starts. He then took a week off to get married, returned to play at The Players Championship before winning the Nelson.
Bo Van Pelt had his streak of 13 consecutive sub-par rounds at Hogan’s Alley end with a 71. But he was fourth at 204.
Johnson wore a plaid-collared shirt for the third round. The last of his seven PGA Tour victories came two years ago when he slipped on a plaid jacket at Colonial.
When Dufner and Johnson completed their first nine holes Saturday, they were tied at 13 under and had a five-stroke lead on the rest of the field. Dufner then had three straight birdies.
Dufner made a 20-foot birdie putt at the 386-yard 10th hole, where Johnson had his first two-putt of the round – from nearly 51 feet – to save par.
At the straight 630-yard 11th, Dufner hit an approach from 108 yards inside 5 feet for a birdie. Johnson two-putted from 7 feet for par.
Johnson drove into a fairway bunker at No. 12 but saved par with pitch shot inside 2 feet. Dufner got a break when his tee shot rolled through a bunker there and his approach to 4 feet for birdie to get to 16 under.
Dufner had a streak of 38 consecutive bogey-free holes snapped at the 449-yard 14th when he drove into the rough then missed the green with the second shot. But Johnson had his first three-putt of the tournament at the same hole, from 60 feet after his approach from a fairway bunker.
At No. 15, Johnson’s second shot settled into a grassy clump only inches from rolling over a ledge into a 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.
That was the kind of scrambling the 2007 Masters champion had to do several times.
Johnson needed only eight putts for a 31 on the front nine, though some of those putts were just to save par since he hit just three of those greens in regulation.
While he used his putter after his approach at No. 2 went through the green into the rough, and made the 28-footer for his second consecutive birdie, that didn’t even count as a putt.
His approach at No. 3 was short of the green, and he chipped to 3 feet for par. Then he was in the front bunker at the 218-yard fourth hole, where he blasted inside 4 feet for another par, then got even closer out of the sand at par-3 eighth. He rolled in a 26-foot birdie putt at No. 9 to match Dufner.
Divots: Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen opened his third round with four consecutive birdies. He was in a group of seven players tied for seventh, but 11 strokes behind Dufner. .. That group at 206 includes Kelly Kraft, the 2011 U.S. Amateur who turned pro after the Masters. The former SMU player was 6 under through his first eight holes and played even the rest of the round. … Vijay Singh, who got the last of his 34 PGA Tour wins four years ago, was 4 under through six holes Saturday. He had four consecutive bogeys on the back nine.