By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The PGA TOUR is becoming a truly global initiative and last week the spectacle descended upon Shanghai China for the World Golf Championships–HSBC Champions.
From the opening round, the TOUR’s elite put on a show of superlative golf and low scoring but it was Dustin Johnson who grabbed the tournament with an incredible second-round 63. From there he piled on the pressure and closed with back-to-back rounds of 66 over the weekend. His virtuoso performance resulted in a three-stroke victory and his second victory in 2013. In an odd twist of fate, thanks to the new wraparound schedule, Johnson, who won the 2013 season-opener at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions will be the only person ever to win two season-opening events in one calendar year.
Much is made of Johnson’s athleticism and power. There is a lot of conversation and discussion about his golf swing too, especially with regard to his bowed lead wrist and closed clubface at the top of his backswing. It highlights for me an important lesson as to understanding the influence of the clubface on the ball-flight and direction.
My childhood background in cricket has always had me convinced that the bat-face/clubface’s alignment throughout the swing and then at impact has a bigger influence on the direction of the ball than any other factor. With that being said it is important to realize that, more than anything else, your swing work should be directed toward presenting a squaring clubface along the correct angle of attack in order to deliver consistently accurate and powerful shots.
Johnson, under the expert guidance of Butch Harmon, does a super job of doing just that. As mentioned, he carries a bowed wrist and a closed clubface at the top. Instead of adjusting the wrist position at the top of the swing (a task that would be very difficult and potentially risky) Dustin went about applying, and gaining an understanding of, what was necessary to avoid the harmful left shot that could result from the closed clubface.
In order to make accommodations for the closed clubface at the top, Johnson makes an aggressive and fast unwind of his hips and torso along with a full extension of both his arms through impact and beyond. These two mechanisms “open” or square the clubface and help him to deliver reliable and consistent shots.
Everyone should realize what mechanisms result in the face playing more open through impact and on the other hand which mechanisms cause it to close more. Further, if you tend to play with the clubface in an open situation at the top (the face of the club will appear to hang down toward the ground) then you need to ensure that the downswing emphasizes a closing of the face to deliver the ball on line. Conversely, if you carry a closed clubface at the top (the face will look toward the sky) you need to ensure that you make downswing moves to open up the clubface en route to impact.
In order to improve your consistency become intimately aware of your clubface’s tendency and then find players who tend the same way. Go ahead and pay attention to what your model (whoever that may be) does during the downswing and impact in order to hit quality shots. Strive to emulate your model and not just any golfer. As I mentioned earlier, a player’s downswing delivery is very much a function of what the top of his or her swing looks like. Not every model is for you.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Dustin Johnson lost his three-shot lead but found it again late to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions on Sunday at Sheshan International.
After a bogey on the opening hole, Johnson posted six straight pars to fall behind both Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who were playing in the final group with Johnson. He responded with two birdies around the turn and a back-nine 31 that featured a hole-out eagle on the short par-4 16th to close it out.
For Johnson, who started his 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season this week, it's the second consecutive season he's opened with a victory.
Poulter finished alone in second, right where he started the day, three off the pace with McDowell another shot back.
Sergio Garcia, who closed with the day's best round (63) was alone in fourth while Justin Rose rounded out the top 5.
Dustin Johnson has won on TOUR for the seventh consecutive season and has claimed his debut event for the second year in a row. He held off Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell on Sunday at Sheshan International to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. With the win, Johnson moves to No. 3 in the early season FedExCup standings.
Want to congratulate Johnson on his win? Leave a note in our comments section below and we'll get it to him!
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Dustin Johnson has done just about everything right through the first three rounds of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
The seven-time TOUR winner leads the field with 23 birdies and also ranks No. 1 in putting. He's tied for No. 2 in the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, showing he has put everything together to open up his three-shot advantage over Ian Poulter at Sheshan International.
"Obviously to have a three‑shot lead going into the last day is good," Johnson said. "(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. ... Got to come out and make a lot of birdies."
Even when things have gone wrong for Johnson -- he suffered a pair of double bogeys on the back nine Saturday -- the damage has been minimal. He made 10 birdies to offset the doubles, which kept him ahead with 18 holes to play.
With everything going his way thus far, how can Poulter, Graeme McDowell (four shots back) or anyone else catch Johnson on Sunday?
For starters, they'll have to hope he cools off. Johnson has racked up 10 birdies in each of the last two rounds. Even if he doesn't post the same outstanding numbers in the finale, however, it's unlikely that Johnson comes back to the field following rounds of 69-63-66 so someone will likely have to go low to make a run at the title.
There is good news for those hoping to track down the leader. Johnson has held the 54-hole lead in 72-hole events three times previously and won just one of them (2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am). Though he has won three events that have been shortened to 54 holes, Johnson has never broken 70 in a fourth round after starting the day with at least a share of the lead.
A round over 70 would bring a number of other competitors into play. Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and course record holder Martin Kaymer are all inside the top 10 and within striking distance with a low Sunday round.
In addition, he'll be trying to hold off Poulter, the defending champion in this event, and McDowell, who erased Johnson's only previous three-shot lead after 54 holes to win the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
"Graeme and Ian are great players, so tomorrow I've still got to come out and play really good golf," Johnson said after Round 3. "You know, it's a golf course where if you're playing well, you can shoot a good score, so tomorrow I'm going to come out and try to do the same things I did during the last two days. You know, just get in the fairway, get on the green and try to hole the putt."
Johnson, Poulter and McDoweel will tee it up in the final group at 10:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m. ET Saturday night). You can watch the action live on PGATOUR.COM and Golf Channel starting at 11 p.m. ET.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The third round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions was a round where players either needed to make birdies in bunches or get left behind.
Birdies alone weren't enough for Dustin Johnson, who had 10 Saturday but double bogeyed two holes on the inward nine to post a 6-under 66 that left him three clear of Ian Poulter after 54 holes.
"If you would have told me I would shoot 6 under before teeing off today, I'd have taken it," Johnson said. "Obviously left a few shots out there."
Johnson entered the day five clear of the pack and had that same advantage on the 18th tee when he blocked his drive into a water hazard and went on to drop a pair of shots on the finishing hole.
Poulter, the defending champion, had eight birdies and an eagle in his 63 that would have tied the course record if Martin Kaymer hadn't reached the clubhouse in 62 about an hour earlier.
Graeme McDowell was alone in third, four off the pace after his 64. Graham DeLaet (65), Justin Rose (65) and Rory McIlroy (67) were two more shots back at 12 under.
Kaymer started the day at even par after rounds of 70 and 74 at Sheshan International but climbed as high as a share of third on the leaderboard as he racked up 10 birdies (while taking pars on a pair of par-5s) on a course he won on in 2011.
Kaymer was gunning for a 59, but parred the final two holes.
"I didn't really play much different than the last few days," Kaymer said. "I just made a few putts, a couple unexpected ones."
Johnson, a seven-time PGA TOUR winner, is looking to claim a victory in his debut event for the second consecutive season.