Zach Johnson in contention again
May, 25, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Zach Johnson is in great shape, but then he knows all about being in great shape after finishing runner-up in two of his past three PGA Tour starts.
At 9 under, Johnson is alone in second place, 2 shots behind leader and last week's Byron Nelson champ Jason Dufner, after two rounds at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Johnson led Dufner by 1 shot after Thursday's opening round and it certainly looked as though Johnson might power ahead of Dufner (who shot a 64 playing in the morning) early in his afternoon round Friday.
Johnson, playing in his first tournament since The Players Championship on May 13, where he tied for second, eagled out of the gate and then birdied to quickly cut into Dufner's lead and get to minus-9. But he bogeyed No. 3 and then made par on the next seven holes.
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezZach Johnson acknowledges fans at Colonial after sinking a putt on No. 13 for one if his four second-round birdies.
He had the disadvantage of an afternoon start Friday, a day that grew gustier, making for tougher conditions. The morning groups dealt with less wind and cooler temperatures. Johnson is 2 shots ahead of Bo Van Pelt and Tommy Gainey and 3 in front of Tom Gillis.
Starting with the par-5 No. 11, Johnson went birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey and then managed one last birdie on No. 16 to get back to 9 under. He missed a short birdie putt on 18 as the ball just skirted along the left side of the hole.
"It seems like every time I made a birdie I put myself in a pretty difficult predicament to make par," Johnson said. "I finished strong: a good save on 15, a good birdie on 16 and another good save on 17. And 18, I'll take a 4 there. I hit a good putt, misread it. I'm excited about [Saturday]."
Johnson, with three top-10 finishes but no victories this season, is counting on his experience on the Colonial course to get him over the hump for the first time this season and into a second plaid jacket in three years.
He will pair with Dufner for Round 3 as Dufner looks to keep the lead and continue his quest for the rare DFW double. Only 14 golfers have won both the HP Byron Nelson and Colonial, and only Ben Hogan in 1946 won both in the same season.
"It doesn't matter who I play with," Johnson said. "Certainly, Jason and I are buddies. I will enjoy playing with him because he is a friend. It's nothing more than that. He's got a good rhythm about it, about his game right now. Certainly confidence, that's always fun to watch, but it's irrelevant who I play with. I'm not playing against him. I'm playing against the golf course and the conditions and the elements that are presented. So that's my focus."