• Crowne Plaza Invitational, Round Four

Johnson takes title after fierce Dufner battle

ESPN staff
May 27, 2012
Zach Johnson held his nerve for glory on Sunday © PA Photos


Zach Johnson beat off the competition of Jason Dufner to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational for the second time in three years.

Trailing his rival by a single stroke overnight, the 2007 Masters champion quickly pulled level when birdying the second as Dufner dropped a shot. However, Dufner - who recently won his first PGA Tour title in New Orleans - rallied with back-to-back birdies from the fifth to reassert his authority.

With no-one else in the field within striking distance, the focus was on the final group, with the pressure slowly being cranked up as the round wore on. Dufner, often praised for his temperament, showed he can succumb to nerves as he found water en route to a double bogey at the par-four ninth, with his rival then moving clear with a tidy birdie on 11.

Both players were feeling the tension, with neither able to put a decent run of holes together. Dufner tripped up again at the 15th, where he dropped two shots to lose further ground, while Johnson bogeyed the next to give Dufner a sniff.

It would take a miracle on the final hole for Dufner to prevail, and it nearly occurred. With Johnson leading by three heading to the tee, there appeared little danger for the 2010 winner. However, having seemingly got up and down for par, Johnson incurred a two-stroke penalty because, when marking his ball, he moved the marker out of Dufner's line only to fail to return it to its proper position. Fortunately the damage was minor, Johnson signing for a two-over 72 for 12 under - one shot ahead of Dufner, who posted a final-round 74.

It was Johnson's eighth career victory and moved him to third in the FedExCup standings.

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