Fort Worth, TX – Zach Johnson ended Jason Dufner's dream of a third win in four starts, but not before some late drama Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Johnson rolled in a four-foot putt on the final hole to seemingly close out a three-stroke win, but it was quickly pointed out that he never moved his ball mark back after shifting it out of Dufner's putting line.
Johnson was given a two-stroke penalty before signing his scorecard and won by one shot instead of three.
The former Masters champion finished with a two-over 72 to finish at 12-under 268.
"It was not easy. In some respect, I felt like I took down a lion," Johnson said on television. "I mean, he's been on top of the game. Duf played easily as good as I did, but I just got some fortuitous breaks."
Dufner, who had won New Orleans and the Byron Nelson in the last few weeks, closed with a four-over 74 to end alone in second at minus-11.
The late infraction by Johnson added just another twist to what was already an up-and-down day.
The duo were paired in the final group and had a two-stroke swing at the second when Johnson rolled in an 11-footer for birdie while Dufner three- putted for bogey to fall one back.
Dufner regained the top spot with an eight-foot birdie putt on five and a 34- footer for birdie at the sixth. Johnson dipped two back with a bogey on the eighth.
However, Dufner's second shot at the ninth rode the wind and ended up in the water left of the green. After chipping on, he two-putted for bogey as the pair made the turn at 14-under.
There were a pair of two-stroke swings at 11 and 12. Johnson sank an 18-foot birdie try on 11, then hit the lip of a fairway bunker with his second shot on No. 12, leading to a bogey.
Dufner, meanwhile, dumped his third to the par-five 11th in a bunker. He chipped on and two-putted for bogey, then got that shot right back with an eight-foot birdie putt at 12.
Johnson took the lead for good with a nine-foot birdie effort at 14. Dufner found water with his second at the par-four 15th, hit a poor chip back down the fairway, then pitched his fifth to four feet. He two-putted for triple- bogey to slide four back.
It wasn't over, though. Johnson three-putted for bogey on 16 to cut his lead to three.
Thankfully for him, that was enough. Johnson blasted out of the sand to four feet at the 18th and made the putt for the win. What he didn't realize at the time was that he hadn't replaced his ball mark. If he had missed the putt, the duo would have gone to extra holes to determine the winner.
"You can come up with a number of adjectives for that, and I can think of any number in my head," Johnson joked on television afterwards. "No harm, no foul, though."
Dufner was denied his third win in four starts, but still stands atop the race for the FedEx Cup.
"I had a rough day today. Zach played pretty good. The penalty there made it a little interesting, a little weird, but I just didn't have it today," Dufner said in a televised interview. "I didn't play very well. I couldn't get the ball in the fairway, which makes this course difficult. A little disappointed.
"It's been a pretty exciting month or so of golf and personal life kind of things, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I just couldn't get it done."
Tommy Gainey posted a three-under 67 to end alone in third at minus-seven. Jim Furyk closed with his fourth round in the 60s, a 68, to take fourth at six- under 274.
Rickie Fowler (69) shared fifth place at minus-five with Ryan Palmer (70), Chris Kirk (65), Harris English (67) and John Huh (70).
NOTES: Johnson collected $1.152 million for the win and earned his third top- two finish in his last four tour starts. He became the 11th player to win this title multiple times...Dufner dropped to 2-3 when owning at least a piece of the 54-hole lead. He had been looking to join Ben Hogan as the only players to win the Byron Nelson and Colonial in the same year...Only nine of 22 54-hole leaders have won this year on the PGA Tour...The tour heads to Ohio next week as Steve Stricker defends his title at the Memorial Tournament.