Before playing his first practice round this week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Jason Dufner spent time in the locker room signing flags from the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Dufner, who captured Sunday's title at the Nelson, received good-natured ribbing from members of the Colonial tournament staff. But he quickly turned the tables on his hosts.
"By Sunday night, I may be signing Colonial flags," Dufner said.
Dufner laughed Friday when recalling the exchange, which is starting to look downright prophetic. And potentially historic.
Dufner, the PGA Tour's hottest player in the past month, seized control of the Colonial leader board with a bogey-free 64 in Friday's second round. He stands at 11 under par through 36 holes, two strokes ahead of Zach Johnson, the first-round leader and 2010 Colonial champ.
If Dufner is still leading when the plaid jacket is presented Sunday, he would become the first player to capture both DFW tour stops in a year when the events were played in consecutive weeks. Ben Hogan won both the 1946 Colonial and the 1946 Dallas Invitational (later renamed the Nelson), but the events were played in May and September, respectively.
Dufner, 35, said he welcomes the chance to complete a North Texas Two-Step through the DFW tour stops.
"That would be a pretty neat thing... a great accomplishment," Dufner said. "Hopefully, I continue to play some good golf and make a little bit of history."
Even better, in his mind, would be the chance to join Hogan -- his childhood hero -- on the list of DFW double dippers.
"That would be some great company to join," Dufner said. "Obviously, Mr. Hogan has a legacy in this area. He's known as a great player and a great man. To have anything about me compared to him, or be talked about in the same sentence with him, is something that would be pretty unique and special to me."
Dufner is a long way from the finish line, but he matched the lowest score of tournament week with Friday's 64 while dealing with swirling wind gusts to 30 mph. Dufner is now 22 under in his last six rounds on the PGA Tour (Nelson and Colonial) and has held at least a share of the lead in 11 of his last 34 rounds at tour events.
He's won twice during that stretch, starting with an April 29 triumph at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and could become the 15th player to post career victories at both DFW stops by winning in Fort Worth.
Dufner's hot start at Colonial earned kudos from playing partner Matt Kuchar, the No. 5 player in the world golf rankings and highest-ranked player in the Colonial field.
"Jason has been mistake-free. It's been pretty to watch," Kuchar said. "He's definitely got it going."
Johnson backed up Thursday's 64 with a second-round 67 to join Dufner in today's featured group. Johnson offset three bogeys with an eagle and four birdies during his 14th consecutive sub-par round at Colonial.
His confidence level is high enough that Johnson playfully announced his presence in the interview area by grabbing a microphone and intoning: "Zach Johnson's in da house!" He also expressed satisfaction with posting a 67 on a day when he declared playing conditions "gustier" than Thursday, which made club selection difficult.
"In a 15-second stretch, you could have a two-club change [while pulling clubs]," Johnson said. "You had to kind of trust the wind chart and the compass. There was a little bit of feel involved. But if you could keep the ball down, you could score."
Golfers who let their shots be impacted by the swirling gusts paid the price. Notables who failed to make the cut at 3 over par (143) included defending champ David Toms, Fort Worth resident J.J. Henry, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champ.
Only 29 of the 79 cut survivors will carry sub-par totals into the weekend. Among the pursuers, all will be chasing Dufner, who set up three of his six birdie putts with 7-iron approach shots. The longest of Dufner's birdie putts traveled 20 feet.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760