America’s Dustin Johnson shook off a two-pronged European attack and produced a run of three birdies and an eagle in five holes yesterday to secure the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Johnson finished on a tournament record 24-under par 264, three ahead of England’s Ian Poulter and four ahead of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell after a pulsating final day’s play at Sheshan Golf Club.
The leading trio all shot final rounds of six-under par 66, going head-to-head in a display of golf of the highest quality.
McDowell and Poulter got off to perfect starts as they both birdied the first two holes.
Johnson, starting the day three ahead at 18 under par, dropped a shot by three-putting the first.
When McDowell added a third birdie in a row at the third the American found himself in a three-way tie for the lead at 17-under.
The lead ebbed and flowed with first McDowell, courtesy of a birdie at the seventh, edging in front. However, he was soon joined again by Poulter and Johnson who both birdied the eighth. Johnson got his nose in front again with another birdie at nine.
The par-three 12th looked as if it might be a turning point as first Poulter sank a 25-footer from off the green and then McDowell followed him in from half that distance in the fringe to put the European duo back out in front.
However, Johnson kept his cool, ripping a monster drive about 350 yards down the 411-yard 13th before floating in the deftest of lob wedges from 70 yards to a pin cut tight to the sloping front edge. The putt dropped and the trio were back all square.
All three rattled home a succession of birdie putts at the par-five 14th and Johnson said that was the turning point.
“I drove in the rough and hit it just short of the green. I then hit a very poor wedge and left it 20-foot short,” he said. “Graeme made about a 50-footer and for me to make the next one, especially since Poulter was already in there for birdie, I think that was the big turning point.”
Poulter bogeyed 15 after finding a bunker left of the green and Johnson pounced with the killer blow at the short par-four 16th.
With McDowell and Poulter both inside 12 feet with their second shots, Johnson chipped in for an eagle two.
Although Poulter holed his putt for birdie, Johnson had a two-shot cushion.
He then put his tee shot to within eight feet at the 17th and rolled home another birdie to seal the title.