November 2 2013
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.