Dustin Johnson’s late blip lets in McDowell and Poulter
McIlroy birdies last two holes for a 67 and share of fourth place in Shanghai
Rory McIlroy looks dejected on the 16th green as his caddie JP Fitzgerald looks on during the third round of the WGC - HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
A double bogey on the final hole by runaway leader Dustin Johnson allowed Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell to narrow the gap at the top of the leaderboard going into the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Johnson started the day at Sheshan International Golf Club with a five shot advantage following a course record 63 yesterday, and that margin was intact when he headed to the par five 18th hole after ten birdies in his opening 17 holes.
However, the big-hitting American found the water on the last and carded his second double bogey of the day, after twice failing to chip onto the green on the par fourth tenth hole, where he signed for a six.
That meant a round of 66 and an 18 under par total of 198 for the US Ryder Cup player, who will now take a three stroke lead over Poulter into the final round, with 2010 US Open Champion McDowell a further shot back.
Rory McIlroy, the first round leader, birdied the last two holes for a 67 and is six shots back on 12 under par in a share of fourth place with US Open Champion Justin Rose and Canadian Graham Delaet, both of whom carded rounds of 65.
“I’m still a little mad from my double bogey on 18,” said Johnson. “But to have a three shot lead going into the last day is good, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I still have to play really well.
“Obviously the guys that are right behind me, they are playing very well, too. So it’s still going to be a tough day tomorrow. I’ve got to come out and make a lot of birdies,” he said.
On a day of low scoring in China, defending champion Poulter fired a superb nine under par 63, which included five birdies in row from the third hole and an eagle three on the 14th, as he surged to 15 under par and firmly into contention to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to retain a World Golf Championships title.
“Nine under par on any golf course is a good score, and that was a good nine under par,” said Poulter. “I guess the only blemish for me, which leaves a bit of a sour taste, was three-putting 17, and actually missing a couple of opportunities.
“As silly as it sounds when you make eight birdies and an eagle, there were putts on one, two and eight that I could have made and a few others.”
McDowell will also be looking to put pressure on Johnson in the final round after posting six birdies in his opening 14 holes and then chipping in from the greenside bunker for an eagle on the 16th hole in his flawless eight under par round of 64.
“Bizarrely, I really haven’t got it going on the greens yet this week,” he said. “I made a couple today, and it was bit of a bonus with the bunker shot on 16. I haven’t holed a lot of putts, though, so hopefully I’m saving it for tomorrow.”