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May 23 2013

6:30 PM

Thursday observations

Zach Johnson didn't play his best round but held it together for a 69. (Halleran/Getty Images)

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The best moment of the first round was a quiet exchange between caddie and player in the ninth fairway. Ryan Palmer had hit a 303-yard drive on his final hole and followed that up with a wedge to 5 feet. His caddie, James Edmondson, whispered, “Make that putt and you’ll tie my course record.”

Edmondson is a Colonial member and three-time club champion. With Edmondson's encouragement, Palmer made the putt for an 8-under 62. He knows the course so well, Palmer was not afraid to hit driver on most holes and knew his numbers so well, he never needed to look at his yardage book.

Observations

Frustrated: Zach Johnson seemed ready to make his move. He was 1 under and had 98 yards into the sixth green. Johnson pushed his sandwedge 10 yards right of the hole, into a bunker and made bogey enroute to a 69. It was such a bad shot, I wondered if Johnson had been in a divot. “Not a bad lie, just a bad swing,” was his answer. Frequently this season, Johnson seems ready for a charge that doesn’t materialize. He says a “lack of fundamentals” is the problem and while Johnson did not elaborate, he could be referring to his putting.

Johnson ranked eighth and 11th in strokes gained-putting the last two seasons but is 101st this year. He has always had an unusual address position while putting, with his hands even with -- or even slightly behind -- the golf ball. Johnson worked hard last season in getting his hands slightly forward at address but they appear to be even with the ball this year.

Inconsistent: Jason Dufner has had plenty of good rounds this year but has not had a good tournament. He has yet to post a top-10 finish and it’s puzzling. Dufner ranks 72nd in FedExCup points and is 47th in scoring average at 70.857. Dufner has struggled on the weekend, ranking 115th in third-round scoring and 165th in the final round. When a player consistently struggles, he knows he has to make changes. Dufner shows flashes of great play and then fluctuates. That is very frustrating for the player because the game keeps teasing him into thinking everything is fine and he doesn’t know whether to make changes or stay the course.

Color coordinated: Daniel Summerhays knows why he shot 65 in the opening round. Part of it was due to taking 23 putts and making nine birdies while averaging a tournament leading 1.182 putts per green. Those are all good reasons, but Summerhays wanted to talk about his clothing. He wore an orange shirt with gray pants and Summerhays says every time he wears that color combination he plays well. In fact, Summerhays says he might wash the shirt just so he can wear it again this week. If Summerhays keeps taking just 23 putts per round, it won’t matter what color combination he wears.

Let it fly: Colonial is known as a golf course for shot makers. The theory is you play for position off the tee, sacrificing distance for accuracy. Matt Every had a different plan and went with driver more than most other players. Every hit only eight fairways but averaged 302 yards off the tee. It led to a 5-under 65. Every reasoned a cool spring has lead to sparse bermuda rough and the course is not as punishing as it has been in the past.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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