Johnson holds on for victory
Dustin Johnson held off all comers to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai with a superb final-round 66.
Having seen his overnight lead wiped out in the space of the first two holes, the American recovered superbly to post five birdies and an eagle for a 24 under par total – three shots clear of defending champion Ian Poulter, who also had a 66.
Graeme McDowell was third a shot behind Poulter after another 66, while Sergio Garcia finished fourth on 18 under after carding the joint-lowest round of the day, a 63.
Former world number one Rory McIlroy was in a tie for fifth alongside Canada’s Graeme Delaet on 15 under, with both players posting rounds of 69.
Johnson three-putted the opening hole for a bogey as playing partners Poulter and McDowell opened with two and three birdies apiece over the first three holes.
His overnight lead was suddenly a thing of the past, but Johnson was able to hold his nerve to finish the strongest of the three players – with a back nine, five-under-par 31 putting the result beyond question.
Having wiped out his opening bogey with birdies at eight and nine, Johnson added three more birdies at 13, 14 and 17, and chipped in for eagle at the driveable par-four 16th after finishing just ten yards short of the green.
With neither Poulter or McDowell able to make those kind of gains over the closing holes, it allowed Johnson to play it safe on the 18th and lay up for a comfortable three-shot win.
It’s the American’s first victory on the European Tour and eighth on the PGA Tour and it earned him a cool €1,012,145.
“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, but I am 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,” said Johnson after the round.
“I played really well the last few holes on the front nine and then had a great back nine. The guys made it really interesting but I just played really well coming down the stretch.
“The last few holes here you can make some birdies. It was a lot of fun out there, it was a good match from both of them. They put a lot of pressure on me but I am really proud of myself and the way I handled it.”
Johnson has not always handled pressure as well as he did on the day, with a famous final-round implosion at the 2010 US Open probably his most infamous example.
“It takes a while to learn that (maturity and patience),” Johnson added. “I wish I would have had some of that a few times a few years ago, but you learn from your mistakes and try to get better from them and I think I showed a lot of patience and a lot of discipline with clubs I picked and shot selection.
“This is probably my biggest win and hopefully there are better things to come.”
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