Paul Dunne stalls as Johnson rises to the top in Shanghai
Greystones man sits nine shots behind Dustin Johnson after his scintillating 63
Paul Dunne lets his driver slip from his hand after a poor tee shot at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images
On another good day for scoring in south east China, Paul Dunne left the course after his second round at the WGC-HSBC Champions with a sour taste in his mouth after a penultimate hole double bogey saw him slip from a tie for eighth to a tie for 22nd and nine shots behind leader Dustin Johnson.
The 24-year-old went into the second round just three shots off the lead but struggled to gain any of the momentum seen in his opening round 67 as he eventually wound up with a one over par round of 73.
Setting the pace at the top is world number one Johnson who lit up this limited field, no-cut event with a stunning 63, largely thanks to burning up the back nine in just 29 shots.
That was a full 10 shots better than Dunne who couldn’t seem to capitalise on any of the four birdies he made on Friday. Starting on the 10th the Greystones man dropped a shot at his third hole but recovered it immediately at the next before giving it back again on the 17th – his eighth.
And it was to be that sort of inconsistent day for Dunne, despite getting to under par for the round at one stage thanks to birdies at the second and the fourth. A bogey at the fifth set him back to level but a birdie two followed at the sixth as he continued to battle hard and remain in contention.
However, disaster then struck at the par five eight where he racked up a double bogey seven to slip back to four under par for the tournament, a long way off the mark of 13 under set by Johnson.
But few were keeping pace with the world number one on Friday in Shanghai, with Koepka making the best hand of it. While Johnson burned through the field to take a three shot lead when he finished, Koepka – who was in the final group of the day and struggling to get off a run of 13 pars in a row – rallied to pick up birdies on the 16th and 17th to cut the gap to just one.
For Johnson it was the simple (or not so simple) case of nine birdies and nine pars, with seven of those birdies coming in the back nine alone.
The 33-year-old – who won this event in 2013 – started the day four behind leader Koepka and didn’t seem to be making too much of a charge when he made the turn at just two under for the day thanks to birdies at the two par fives on the front nine.
However, the Dustin Johnson of the start of the year – when he won on three consecutive starts before injuring himself at the Masters – was about to come out to play, beginning his charge at the 10th with a birdie.
Consecutive birdies followed at the 12th and 13th before a scintillating finish of four birdies in his final four holes saw him around in just 63 and well-placed to capture a sixth WGC title.
“Obviously I played very well,” Johnson told reporters after covering the back nine in 29. “But I actually got a putter like about 20 minutes before I teed off. It’s a (TaylorMade) Spider, so it’s one that I’ve used before.
“I wasn’t really pleased with the one I played with (on Thursday), so the guys here in China made me one. I got it right before I walked to the tee. I hit a few putts on the practice green with it and I was like, ‘Oh, this will work pretty well’.
“I went out and holed a lot of putts, so I kind of like it.”
Johnson also clearly likes the course at Sheshan International, where his 24-under-par winning total in 2013 included a second round of 63.
“It suits my eye very well,” the 33-year-old added. “For me, if I drive it good out here, I feel like I can make a lot of birdies.
“I can reach all the par fives if I drive it in the fairway. The rest of the holes, I feel like if I’m in the fairway, I can attack the golf course.
“It’s always important to get a win no matter what time of year it is. For me, it’s kind of the end of the year but it’s also the start of the 2018 (PGA Tour) season. It would be really nice to get off to a good start.”
Johnson and Koepka are good friends and neighbours in Florida, although most of their time together is spent relaxing or in the gym, rather than on the course.
“It will be fun, nice to play with him,” Koepka said. “We actually talked about it on Saturday when we played at home. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been in contention together.”
Collated second round scores & totals in the World Golf Championships — HSBC Champions, Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China (USA unless stated, par 72):
131 Dustin Johnson 68 63
132 Brooks Koepka 64 68
135 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 65 70, Justin Rose (Eng) 67 68
136 Patrick Reed 66 70
137 Brian Harman 68 69, Matt Kuchar 67 70, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69
138 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 68 70, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 68 70
139 Kyle Stanley 71 68, Ashun Wu (Chn) 67 72, Matthew Southgate (Eng) 68 71, Charles Howell III 72 67, Daniel Berger 68 71, Tony Finau 67 72, Scott Hend (Aus) 71 68, Peter Uihlein 72 67, David Lipsky 69 70, Gavin Green (Mal) 65 74
140 Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 66 74, Paul Dunne (Irl) 67 73, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 71 69
141 Chan Kim 69 72, Pat Perez 72 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 70, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 70
142 S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind) 72 70, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 71 71, Patrick Cantlay 68 74, Wen-chong Liang (Chn) 72 70, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) 72 70, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 71 71, Alexander Levy (Fra) 71 71, Jordan Smith (Eng) 69 73, Hyun-woo Ryu (Kor) 69 73
143 Jason Day (Aus) 69 74, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 73 70, Branden Grace (Rsa) 74 69, Adam Hadwin (Can) 69 74, Chez Reavie 69 74, Phil Mickelson 71 72, Russell Henley 75 68, Paul Casey (Eng) 71 72, Poom Saksansin (Tha) 73 70, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 70 73, Daisuke Kataoka (Jpn) 71 72
144 Richie Ramsay (Sco) 73 71, Bill Haas 71 73, Alex Noren (Swe) 72 72, Adam Scott (Aus) 72 72, Hudson Swafford 70 74, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 73 71
145 Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 72 73, Yan-wei Liu (Chn) 72 73, Ashley Hall (Aus) 74 71, Matthew Griffin (Aus) 68 77, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 73 72
146 Xander Schauffele 71 75, Lucas Glover 71 75, Jon Rahm (Spa) 72 74
147 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 69 78, Ross Fisher (Eng) 77 70, Zecheng Dou (Chn) 71 76
148 Haotong Li (Chn) 72 76, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 77 71, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 74 74, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 71 77, Michael Hendry (Nzl) 73 75
149 Wesley Bryan 77 72, Graeme Storm (Eng) 75 74
150 Marc Leishman (Aus) 71 79
151 Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 72 79
153 Andrew Dodt (Aus) 74 79
154 Thomas Pieters (Bel) 75 79
157 Yi Cao (Chn) 74 83
164 Brandon Stone (Rsa) 78 86