SHANGHAI (AP) — As a part of a promotional stunt for the HSBC Champions previous in the week, Dustin Johnson was once amongst 3 gamers dressed in superhero capes on a resort roof, suspended through ropes a couple of toes in the air towards a backdrop of downtown Shanghai at evening.
“I should have pushed him off the platform,” Henrik Stenson mentioned with amusing.
That may were the one manner to forestall the arena’s No. 1 participant from extra domination in the World Golf Championships.
All it took was once one hollow Saturday for Johnson to clutch keep watch over on a blustery day at Sheshan International, along side some lend a hand from Brooks Koepka. A four-shot swing at the par-Five 8th hollow — a birdie for Johnson, a triple bogey for Koepka — despatched Johnson on his manner to a Four-under 68 and a six-shot lead going into the overall spherical.
His handiest giant quantity was once no longer all his doing.
Johnson’s force down the suitable aspect of the 10th hollow hit a cart trail and took a troublesome leap over a wall and into the trees, main to double bogey. Otherwise, it was once the similar recipe that took him to No. 1 in the arena — giant tee pictures, keep watch over of his brief irons and simply sufficient putts to make him glance difficult to catch.
“I’m not going to change anything — play the golf course just how I’ve been playing it,” mentioned Johnson, who has 22 birdies in 54 holes and was once at 17-under 199. “I’m in a good position going into tomorrow, but I’m still going to have to go out and play a really solid round if I want to get it done.”
At stake is an opportunity to grow to be the primary participant to win 3 World Golf Championships in the similar yr, a feat no longer even Tiger Woods together with his 18 World Golf Championships controlled to accomplish.
Johnson gained the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.
He has made this seem like a formality.
“He’s going to wake up in good shape and go ahead and play a solid round of golf. If he does that, the tournament is over,” mentioned Justin Rose, who performed in the overall staff with Johnson and stumbled to a 72 to fall 8 pictures in the back of. “Other than that, playing for second barring something crazy from him.”
The loopy section belonged to Koepka.
Koepka, the U.S. Open champion and Johnson’s shut pal and neighbor, ran off 3 instantly birdies to get started the 3rd spherical and constructed a two-shot lead. Johnson responded with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-Three fourth. His force at the par-Four 7th got here up simply brief into the tough, and he hit a nifty flop-and-run to about Three toes for some other birdie to tie for the lead.
And then after a long wait at the tee at No. eight, all of it modified.
With the wind on the gamers’ backs, and with sheer energy of Johnson and Koepka, the road of the tee shot was once over bushes that experience grown so tall in fresh years they block the view of the touchdown space. Johnson hammered his tee shot and knew from enjoy he was once advantageous.
Koepka stuck his force at the toe and it became over from right-to-left and knew he was once in bother.
His caddie ran down towards the realm to see if he had a shot, and temporarily learned it was once long gone. Koepka hit his 3rd shot from the tee, after which his fourth became left into the danger once more. Koepka thought of a high-risk try out of the mess, however figured his most suitable choice was once to take some other penalty and return to the green. It labored neatly till Koepka neglected a 6-foot putt and took his eight.
Koepka had corporate in making a large quantity. Patrick Reed opened with a triple bogey and had 4 double bogeys on his manner to an 82. Si Woo Kim made an 11 on No. eight.
More bothersome to Koepka was once lacking birdie possibilities on Nos. nine and 11 and par possibilities on Nos. 10 and 12, which he felt will have helped him keep shut.
“It was definitely windier today,” he mentioned. “I didn’t think it was playing that difficult. Definitely should be able to shoot 4 under out here, minus a triple and whatever else I had, a lot of bogeys.”
There have been too many bogeys to stay alongside of Johnson, who by no means let any person nearer to him the remainder of the day.
Koepka went from the bunker into the water at the 18th and had to scramble to save bogey, giving him a 73. He’s nonetheless in the overall staff with Johnson, identical to he had was hoping. They have by no means competed towards each and every different down the stretch, and barring a really perfect get started through Koepka or a stumble through Johnson, that almost definitely would possibly not be the case Sunday.
Stenson, who’s after all beginning to spherical into shape, birdied 3 of his remaining 5 holes for a 69.
“If Dustin keeps on playing the way that he’s done this week, I think it’s going to be a one-man show tomorrow,” Stenson mentioned. “But you never know. Tough wind, and this golf course has a couple of holes where you can certainly have a number. It’s never over until it’s over.”
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