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November 2 2013

4:03 AM

Johnson slips, still holds 54-hole lead

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Dustin Johnson has 23 birdies in 54 holes at Sheshan.

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.

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