Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
So, we’re back in Florida and there’s time to reflect on the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. I’ve enjoyed some low scoring weeks and high finishes in this event over the years and this one could have been right up there.
The frustrating thing was not making much on the greens the first three days. The putter finally came alive on the back nine on Sunday, but that was too late if you’re talking about contending for a win. Still it gave me some satisfaction because I played some good stuff out there all week. In the end, rounds of 69, 69, 71 and a 66 on Sunday left me at 13 under and tied-11th.
Overall it was a very enjoyable three weeks in Asia. We played Macau, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, with a couple of golf course design site visits thrown into the mix, and we got looked after wonderfully well everywhere we went. We’ve been visiting Asia and playing tournaments there for 20 years and it’s amazing how much the game has grown. Everyone is so excited about golf and you can only see it growing even more there in the next 10 years.
Anyway, with me posting this report from Florida you will have correctly assumed that I won’t be teeing it up in Turkey this week and, with new European Tour regulations in force, that in turn means I’m not eligible to play in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next week. Of course, that’s a disappointing scenario for me personally.
Most people would understand the Tour’s point of view and that it needs to find a way to coax the top players into playing more of these big events, but it’s hard to say if the direction they’re going is the right one. We’ll see. For me, it’s a case of sitting down with my team over the coming weeks and working out a sensible schedule for 2014, one that gives me the best chance of playing my best golf every time I tee it up – whether it’s in Europe or America.
That’s a discussion for another day, though.
Graeme McDowell was giving up dozens of yards off the tee to Dustin Johnson in the final round at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, but that's not what bothered him.
It was the putter that bugged him, even after cruising through the final two rounds without a bogey.
"Proud of the way I played this week," said McDowell, who finished solo third, four shots behind Johnson. "A little bit of work needed on the flatstick. I can put better than I putted this week for sure."
Still, it was McDowell's first top-10 on the PGA TOUR since his win in April at the RBC Heritage. He had only three bogeys all week at Sheshan, but was left in awe of Johnson, who played with McDowell in the final group Sunday.
"He trenches one 350 down the middle and has the hands to hit that 70 yard shot to the front pin and make the putt," McDowell said. "He's just a quality, talented, very athletic classy player.
"Yeah, he makes mistakes, but when you've got a game as good as him, you can get away with a few mistakes. He drove it phenomenal. He's just got a great wedge game to go with just an outrageously good driving game."
McDowell wasn't hitting it 350 yards and straight like Johnson was all week, but his iron game was just as good. He was second to Johnson this week in greens hit despite giving up all those yards off the tee.
"Generally just very proud of myself the way I played this week tee to green, especially," McDowell said. "On the greens, room for improvement. But I didn't make a bogey all weekend."
McDowell is second to Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai standings with two weeks remaining, but the Northern Irishman is skipping next week's Turkish Airlines Open.
"As long as Henrik doesn't do anything too unsensible next week in Turkey, I'll have a good shot going into Dubai," McDowell said.
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
At the start of the day, everyone knew it would take a low, low number to catch 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. Of those to reach the clubhouse at Sheshan International thus far, it's Sergio Garcia who has put forth the most valiant effort.
Garcia carded nine birdies and no bogeys in a final-round 9-under 63 that will give him his first top-10 finish of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season. This, after totaling just 14 birdies against five bogeys in the first three rounds.
Garcia started quick with birdies on two of his first three holes before circling numbers on the scorecard from holes 7 through 10. He added birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 16 and headed to the 18th tee with a chance to match or better the course record of 62 set by Martin Kaymer in Saturday's third round.
After missing his tee shot to the left and his second to the right on the par-5, Garcia hit his third shot out of the rough just off the back of the green and went on to save par.
The eight-time TOUR winner left the course alone in fourth with a two-shot cushion on either side of his 18-under total.
Garcia's 63 was his lowest score since Round 2 of the 2012 Wyndham Championship, which he went on to win. His last final-round score that low came at the 2002 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship in Ireland where he carded a 62.
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.
Even though his second-round 72 likely took him out of the tournament, former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy says his season debut was a success this week at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
McIlroy began the third round only five shots back, but his Saturday 67 actually cost him ground. That's because the leaders, namely Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, were all threatening the course record on a great day for scoring.
"Yeah, there's no wind today, and the course was a little softer, as well, just because of the moisture in the air," McIlroy said. "So there were good scores to be had out there obviously. Shooting 67 seemed pretty average, to be honest."
Still, there are numerous bright spots. McIlroy has managed to keep the big numbers off his card -- he's yet to make a double bogey this week. The penchant for blowup holes helped derail his 2013 season. In his last TOUR start before this week (September's BMW Championship), he made four double-bogeys and a triple bogey in 72 holes.
McIlroy played three events in the FedExCup Playoffs and managed to rack up 12 double bogeys. The last tournament McIlroy's played without a double bogey? THE PLAYERS in May.
Can he go low Sunday to win for the first time since 2012?
"I'm giving myself plenty of chances for birdies still and I'm up there contending," said McIlroy. "Still a little bit of work to do on a few areas of the game, but it's definitely heading in the right direction."