At the 2010 PGA Championship, Dustin Johnson had a 12-footer for par that had he made it, would’ve made him the leader in the clubhouse with a chance at victory, or at the worst a playoff. Dustin missed the putt and we all know the rest of the story as he was penalized 2 shots for grounding his club in a bunker, ultimately costing him a spot in the playoff with Bubba Watson and eventual champion Martin Kaymer. What people often forget about that situation is to just imagine the awkwardness had Dustin made that 12-footer, surely fist pumping for a dramatic moment while searching for his first major victory, only to moments later have had that all stripped away. Thankfully, the world doesn’t tick on hypotheticals, as Zach Johnson nearly had a similar one (albeit a non-major one) yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

After grinding his way through an even par round of 70, as big dipping playing opponent Jason Dufner finally noticeably ran out of gas after an incredible run over the past 5 weeks (two wins + oh yeah, getting married), Zach was cruising up to the 18th green for an emotionally charged victory for him and his caddie just over a week after his caddie Damon Green’s father had passed away. Zach knocked in a 4-foot par putt and a 3 stroke victory was his…or so he thought.

Zach had moved his coin on the 18th green to clear the way for Dufner’s putt, and after getting caught up in the emotions of such a meaningful victory, had forgotten to move it back. No question the penalty left at least a bit of an unpleasant taste in Zach’s mouth after such an impressive victory, but just imagine how horrific it would’ve been for everyone involved (even for Dufner) had Zach missed that 4-foot putt, which in the end would’ve resulted in a playoff. Again, thankfully the world doesn’t tick on hypotheticals.

The win is Zach’s second at Colonial in the past 3 years, and came as no surprise as his red hot play over 2 of his previous 3 events (2nd at the Heritage, t-2nd at the PLAYERS) had his game peaking at the right time heading into one of his favorite tracks of the season. Suddenly the ho-hum boy from Iowa now has 8 career wins (4 in Texas in the last 5 years) + 1 major, and is well on his way to a Ryder Cup berth for Davis Love III’s Team USA this fall. Here’s to breathing a large collective sigh of relief on behalf of Zach and the Tour for a penalty that shouldn’t and won’t overshadow another very impressive victory.

Joel Harrington