Zach Johnson in hunt for another win at Hogan's Alley

Zach Johnson in hunt for another win at Hogan’s Alley

Zach Johnson made an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys on Friday.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Zach Johnson has always felt comfortable at Hogan's Alley.

Maybe a weekend at Colonial will get Johnson back on the winning track, though he will still have to overcome the confident Jason Dufner.

Johnson followed his opening 6-under 64 with an up-and-down 67 Friday that left him two strokes behind Dufner going into the third round when they were in the final group together.

“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.''

That may be easier than worrying about Dufner.

Dufner, who won last week at The Byron Nelson Championship and got both of his PGA Tour victories in his previous three starts, shot a bogey-free 64 on Friday to reach 11-under 129.

Two years ago, Johnson set the Colonial tournament scoring record at 21-under 259 en route to the last of seven PGA Tour victories for the 2007 Masters champion.

The only player who has won both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth market in the same year was Ben Hogan in 1946.

“That would be great company to join, obviously,'' said Dufner, who lists Hogan as his hero. “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.''

With the way Dufner is playing these days, his game certainly is in a different class. He has led or shared the lead after 11 of his past 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.''

The last of 14 players to win both the Colonial and Byron Nelson Championship was Rory Sabbatini, at the 2007 Colonial and 2009 Nelson. When Hogan did it, the tournaments weren't played in consecutive weeks.

Johnson has had 14 consecutive sub-par rounds at Colonial, one more than Bo Van Pelt.

The second round started for Johnson eagle-birdie-bogey. Then there was a four-hole stretch on the back nine when he alternated birdies and bogeys twice.

“I hit a couple of bumps along the way. I made some good saves, gave myself some opportunities that I missed,'' he said. “And then got some momentum going on the back, but it seems like every time I made a birdie, I put myself in a pretty difficult predicament to make par.''

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

David Toms shot a 71 and missed the cut at 5-over 145.

With the wind again blowing steady about 20 mph with higher gusts, Dufner stood in the middle of the fairway at No. 5, his 14th hole of the day. Dufner 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.

“I got off to a great start. … I had a chance to catch Dufner, is he not hot right now,'' said Gainey, who opened his round with three consecutive birdies before bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8. “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. He finished tied for 24th at the Masters, and the U.S. Open is in three weeks at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

During the PGA Championship last August, 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.

“I think 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. … I think at the PGA kind of showed me that I could really play at a high level.''

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