Dustin Johnson of the USA held off a host of European stars to claim victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC in China. England’s Ian Poulter was second.
Johnson began the final round three ahead of the pack, with Poulter the closest challenger. But the American three-putted the opening green and, when Poulter birdied the 1st and 3rd and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell birdied the first three holes, Johnson’s advantage was wiped out.
The 29-year-old from the US struck back with birdies at the 8th and 9th holes to reclaim a share of top spot. But Poulter edged ahead again with a birdie on the 12th.
Johnson made a classy birdie on the 13th then both men birdied the 14th to sit together at the top of the pile with four holes to play.
Poulter stumbled when he was unable to get up and down from a bunker on the 15th then the decisive blow was struck by Johnson on the 16th.
It’s a driveable par four and, although none of the men in the final group found the putting surface from the tee, Johnson was just short of the green after a solid long iron. He played a superb chip that went into the hole for an eagle two and, although Poulter managed to make his birdie, Johnson took a two shot lead into the last two holes.
His cushion was extended to three with an excellent birdie two on the 17th, and a solid par on the last for a closing round of 66 was enough for Johnson to take the title. It was his eighth PGA Tour win and his first victory on the European Tour.
“I didn’t get off to the best start and Poulter and McDowell got off to great starts and put a lot of pressure on me,” he said. “But I’m swinging well and putting well so I thought just stick to my game plan and play the golf course how I want to play it and it’s going to come. I’m really proud of myself and the way I handled it. This is probably my biggest win and hopefully there are better things to come.”
Graeme McDowell also closed with a fine round of 66 but he was unable to match Johnson’s scoring down the stretch. He finished four shots back in third place.
Sergio Garcia raced up the leaderboard with a brilliant, bogey-free, final round of 63. He took fourth place on his own, two ahead of England’s Justin Rose.
McDowell has moved up to second behind Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai standings with just the Turkish Airlines Open and the DP World Championship to play. Rose is third and Poulter is fourth.
Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China
Oct 31 – Nov 3, purse $8,500,000, par 72
1 Dustin Johnson (USA) 69 63 66 66 264 $1,400,000
2 Ian Poulter (Eng) 71 67 63 66 267 $850,000
3 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 69 69 64 66 268 $480,000
4 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 70 68 69 63 270 $365,000
5 Justin Rose (Eng) 68 71 65 68 272 $300,000
T6 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 65 72 67 69 273 $231,500
T6 Graham DeLaet (Can) 71 68 65 69 273 $231,500
T8 Jamie Donaldson (Wal) 67 74 66 67 274 $161,667
T8 Bubba Watson (USA) 68 69 69 68 274 $161,667
T8 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 70 74 62 68 274 $161,667
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage