Dufner has 2-stroke lead halfway through Colonial

Print
Email
|

by STEPHEN HAWKINS

Associated Press

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 7:12 PM

Updated Friday, May 25 at 11:00 PM

FORT WORTH — Jason Dufner had a bogey-free 6-under 64 on Friday to establish a two-stroke lead at the Colonial and close in on a rare Texas title double.

A week after winning the Byron Nelson Championship, Dufner moved to 11-under 129 and a two-stroke advantage over Zach Johnson — the 2010 winner who shot a 67. Bo Van Pelt (64) and Tommy Gainey (67) were third at 7 under.

The only player to win both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the same year was Ben Hogan in 1946.

"That would be great company to join," Dufner said. "To have anything compared to him or be talked in the same sentence with him is something that would be pretty unique and special to me."

Both of Dufner's PGA Tour victories came in his previous three starts. He has led or shared the lead after 11 of his last 34 rounds.

"When I step to the first tee, I feel like I'm going to play a good round of golf. That's a nice way to play. It's a comfortable way to play," Dufner said. "I'm just trying to be confident and think about the things I've been doing for almost a year now, and realize that those are the things that are making me successful out here, and not get too caught up in everything else that's going on around me."

Johnson, who had an opening bogey-free 64, started the second round eagle-birdie-bogey. Then there was a four-hole stretch on the back nine when he alternated birdies and bogeys twice.

During the third round Saturday, Johnson will be paired with his friend Dufner.

"He's got a good rhythm about him, about his game right now," Johnson said. "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."

Two years ago, Johnson set the Colonial tournament scoring record at 21-under 259 en route to the last of his seven PGA Tour victories.

Van Pelt (64) and Tommy Gainey (67) were tied for third at 133, a stroke better than Tom Gillis (69).

Defending Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champion David Toms shot a 71 and missed the cut at 5-over 145.

With the wind again gusting, Dufner stood in the middle of the fairway at No. 5, his 14th hole of the day. He stepped back twice before changing clubs, then hit the approach to about 18 feet for his sixth and last birdie.

That is the end of Colonial's "horrible horseshoe" — as Nos. 3-5 are known because of their layout and with the longest par 4s sandwiching a 243-yard par 3.

Dufner has played those holes 4-under through two rounds, and wasn't even aware of the trio's reputation.

"It's just a product of playing well and having good control of my golf ball," he said. "It doesn't really matter what holes you're playing."

Starting on the back nine, Dufner had two birdies, a 5-footer at the 166-yard 13th hole and 7-footer at the 363-yard 17th. He then birdied Nos. 1-3 for the second day in a row.

Gainey opened his round with three consecutive birdies but gave back two strokes with bogies at No.7 and 8. "I got off to a great start. ... I had a chance to catch Dufner, is he not hot right now. I got hot and then let a couple get away."

After Colonial, Dufner — who got married between his two victories — plans to take a short break before beginning preparations for the next major. The U.S. Open is in three weeks at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The 35-year-old Dufner, who has moved up to 14th in the world, had consecutive weekend rounds of 75 at the Masters and tied for 24th after starting 69-70.

It was during the final round of the PGA Championship last August when Dufner had consecutive bogeys on holes No. 15-17. That cost him the lead and forced him into a three-hole playoff that he lost to Keegan Bradley.

"It helped me out a lot this year. It kind reaffirmed the things that I was doing was right, and I was on the right direction and right path," he said. "I didn't think too much about losing. I just thought about all of the good things that happened."

Print
Email
|