Justin Rose pounces on Dustin Johnson’s record-tying collapse to win HSBC Champions in Shanghai
World No 1 lets a six-shot overnight lead slip in nightmare final round at Sheshan International
Justin Rose took advantage of a record-tying collapse by Dustin Johnson and rallied from eight shots behind to win the HSBC Champions.
Johnson, the world’s No 1 player going for his third World Golf Championships title of the year, lost a six-shot lead on Sunday.
That matched the PGA Tour record for largest blown lead in the final round, most recently by Sergio Garcia at Quail Hollow in 2005, and most famously by Greg Norman in the 1996 Masters.
A one-man show turned into a four-man race, and Rose seized on the surprising opportunity in a wild, windblown final round.
“It’s unbelievable,” Rose said. “We all know the position DJ was in, and I think today was the kind of day that the leader probably didn’t want.
“Well, you want a six-shot lead any time, but this is the kind of day where that kind of swing is possible.”
Rose shot 31 on the back nine, getting into the game with birdies on the 13th and 14th, saving par with a 10-foot putt on the 15th, and then taking the lead with a birdie on the reachable par-four 16th and perhaps his best shot of the day into three feet on the par-three 17th.
It added to a five-under 67, and he wound up winning by two shots.
Johnson, who made 22 birdies through 54 holes in building his six-shot lead, didn’t make one in the windblown final round.
His last hope was to made eagle on the par-five closing hole at Sheshan International, and he smashed his second shot into the wind and over the water.
It caught the right edge of the green before tumbling down the slope with enough pace to disappear into the water.
He finally made a putt – for par. He closed with a 77, his worst closing round with the lead since an 82 at Pebble Beach in the 2010 US Open.
“I just could never get anything going and didn’t hole any putts,” Johnson said. “It was pretty simple.”
It was simply shocking.”
Rose two-putted from long range on the 18th for par to finish at 14-under 274 and win for the first time since capturing the gold medal at the Olympics last summer in Rio de Janeiro. Rose now has won every year since 2010.
“I was very aware that was slipping away,” he said.
The HSBC Champions sure didn’t look like a tournament where he would keep that streak going, not when he was eight shots behind going into the final round against Johnson, who has been No 1 in the world since running off three straight victories against strong fields in the spring.
Johnson tied for second with Henrik Stenson (70) and Brooks Koepka (71), who also had their chances.
Stenson used a four-wood to reach the front of the 16th green and set up a two-putt birdie that tied him with Rose for the lead.
But on the 17th, after Rose had made his birdie in the group ahead, Stenson’s ballooned his tee shot into the wind and came up well short and to the right, and he failed to save par.
“That wind was blowing hard,” Stenson said. “On this golf course, if you hit the wrong shot at the wrong time, it’s going to penalise you.
“Certainly it penalised DJ a number of times today. That’s why he came back to the rest of us.
“I played pretty strong, and then I hit one bad shot with possible the wrong club on 17. That kind of ended my chances to win the golf tournament.”
Koepka got up-and-down with a tough chip on the par-five 14th to get within one shot of Johnson. But on the next hole, after he and Johnson smashed drivers down the middle of the fairway, both came up well short into plugged lies in the bunker.
Johnson made bogey. Koepka came out to 30 feet on the fringe and three-putted for double bogey, effectively ended his hopes.
“It was blowing straight down for us, and all of a sudden it came in off the right,” Koepka said of the 15th. “That’s why you saw Dustin and myself come up 10 and 15 yards short. It would have been just fine if it didn’t just like that.”
Nothing went right for Johnson.
He made bogey on No 1. He drove into the water on the par-five second and had to scramble for bogey.
Still, he made the turn at 15 under and had a three-shot lead, and he was driving it down the middle and long on every shot. He fell apart on the par-five 14th, when he chunked a short iron for his second shot and had to get up-and-down for par, bogeyed the 15th from the bunker, and then hooked an iron into deep rough.
His flop shot was a yard short of being perfect. Instead, it went into a bunker and he made bogey.
Rose won his second World Golf Championships title – the other was at Doral in 2012 – and moved to No 6 in the world. Johnson gets a month off to consider one that got away from him in an ugly manner.