Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

With some luck, Johnson in lead

FORT WORTH, Texas — Zach Johnson stood behind the fourth green looking at his club and then the ball that rolled within 4 feet of the hole.

"I got lucky," Johnson said about his second shot on the 244-yard par 3 — his 13th hole Thursday — after his tee shot went through the green and stopped in a clump of grass.

Three holes later, Johnson was so deep in a greenside bunker he couldn't be seen from the other side of the green until he popped up to watch his blast over the ridge to 21/2 feet from the cup.

Those par-savers were part of a bogey-free 6-under 64 that gave him a one-stroke lead after the first round in the Crowne Plaza Invitational, where 20 to 30 mph wind with higher gusts whipped through the big oak trees lining the fairways at Colonial Country Club.

"I didn't put myself ever in a position that was too worrisome," Johnson said. "I've got zero complaints."

Jason Dufner, rookie Harris English, Tom Gillis and Kyle Reifers were tied for second. Sergio Garcia was in a group at 4 under.

Dufner won the Byron Nelson Championship last weekend, and both his PGA Tour victories have come in the past four weeks. He started at Colonial with three consecutive birdies, was 5 under after a 10-foot birdie putt at the 174-yard eighth, then overcame two bogeys in a three-hole stretch.

Dufner said he doesn't like to putt. "It's not my favorite part of the game, which probably leads to a reason why it's not the strongest part of my game," he said. "I need to find better ways to make that a bit less of a weakness or maybe even turn it into a strength."

Dufner played with Matt Kuchar, who two weeks ago won the Players Championship, and Rickie Fowler, the Players runnerup who the week before earned his first tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Kuchar's only birdie in a round of 72 came on the par-5 No. 1. Fowler birdied two of the last three holes for 68. "Decent. Not good, not bad," Fowler said.

champions: Roger Chapman shot 3-under 68 to take a one-shot lead over John Cook after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbor, Mich. Defending champion Tom Watson is sitting out the tournament because of a wrist problem. Four-time champion Hale Irwin shot 71. Irwin last won the event in 2004, but finished fourth last year.

European: Peter Lawrie and David Drysdale each shot 6-under 66s for a one-shot lead over a group of five at the tour's PGA Championship. Top-ranked Rory McIlroy had five bogeys and a double bogey in his round of 74 to go with three birdies and an eagle. On the par-5, 12th he hurled his club after a poor provisional shot, which came after he sent his second shot out of bounds en route to bogey 6. McIlroy could be fined if his actions are be deemed against the tour's guidelines on course etiquette.

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