Zach Cuts Dufner’s Lead to One Heading to Colonial Finale


Saturday didn't exactly live up to its reputation as "moving day" on the PGA Tour.

Zach Johnson began the third round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club trailing his playing partner and second-round leader Jason Dufner by two strokes.

By the time it was over, the former Masters champion and John Deere Classic board member had maintained his second-place standing and had cut Dufner's lead to one.

But what may look on the surface to have been a rather uneventful day actually was something of a roller coaster.

Zach shot a 5-under par 65 - his 15th consecutive round in the 60s at Colonial - to Dufner's 4-under 66, as Dufner moved to 15-under and Zach to 14-under.

All the way back at 7-under par - and in third place - is veteran Tour pro Tom Gillis. Sunday looks as if Zach and Dufner will battle for the trophy while the rest of the field battles for personal goals.

"Today, I just scored," said Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native and Drake graduate. "I think Dufner played better than I did, but I scored."

Zach lit up the scoreboard with four birdies on the front nine to turn in 31and tie Dufner for the lead at 13-under par. Zach used just eight putts on the front nine.

Dufner responded with birdies on 10, 11, and 12, giving himself a three-shot lead over Zach. After both players bogeyed No. 14, there was a two-shot swing at 16, where Zach birdied and Dufner bogeyed and Dufner's lead was cut to one.

Johnson nearly tied Dufner at 18 but missed his birdie putt by an inch or two.

For Zach, it was all about the short game. He made a 40-foot bomb for birdie on No. 1, chipped in on 2, and had eight one-putts on the front nine.

"I wedged it close," said the Cedar Rapids native, who won at Colonial in 2010. "Out of the traps, close. A nice save on 6, flop shot. Fortunately, I just hit some good pitch shots. I'll get the ball-striking figured out."

On Sunday, of course, the two will be paired together again. Dufner will be going for his third victory in his last three events (New Orleans, Nelson, and possibly Colonial). Johnson will be trying to win his second title at Colonial.

"I totally anticipate Dufner will keep doing what he's been doing," Zach said. "He is striking it very nice and putting it beautifully and his rhythm is tremendous. There is a reason why his name is on top and has been on top."

MAGIC HAPPENS HERE

JULY 10 - 16