Crowne Plaza Invitational 2012: Zach Johnson Leads, Jason Dufner 1 Shot Back

Zach Johnson still holds a one-shot lead as the opening round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational progresses at Colonial.

The 2010 winner at Colonial started hot out of the gates, going out in 30 on a first nine holes that featured four straight birdies. He drained over 100 feet of putts in just the first seven holes as he was unconscious with the putter on a course that's suited him well throughout his career. Johnson maintained his bogey-free round on the back side but posted just one more birdie en route to a 6-under 64.

Three Americans are just one shot off the lead at 5-under. Harris English, the enormously talented rookie from Georgia, continues to make noise on Tour and posted a first-round 65. English won a Nationwide event last year while he was still an amateur, so many projected a successful first season for him on the tour. But the first half of 2012 has exceeded expectations as he's been in the hunt on a number of occasions and posted low rounds at several stops. That continued on Thursday with another bogey-free round.

Tied with English are Tom Gillis and Jason Dufner. Gillis has had success on tour over the past two seasons but has yet to break through for a win. Dufner, on the other hand, might just be the best player in the world right now. He's coming off a win last week at the Byron Nelson, his second in a month after earning his first career win at TPC Louisiana at the end of April. While the wind was up all afternoon, Dufner was still able to take advantage of receptive greens and fired a 65. NBC analyst and Olympic Club member Johnny Miller said on Thursday that he thought Dufner was one of the favorites heading into next month's U.S. Open, and a back-to-back swing through Dallas would certainly bolster those odds.

Rickie Fowler is also on the leaderboard with a first round 2-under 68. Like Dufner, Fowler is hoping to bookend a successful month that started with his first career win at Quail Hollow.

For news and updates on the Crowne Plaza Invitational throughout the week, stay locked to this StoryStream. For more news and analysis on the Tour, visit SB Nation Golf.

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