Rose Blooms as Johnson Suffers a Major China Crisis

By: | Mon 30 Oct 2017 | Comments

JUSTIN ROSE overturned an eight-shot deficit to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in dramatic fashion. The Englishman still trailed by six when he reached the turn but he then birdied five holes on the back nine for a round of 67 to get to 14 under par and defeat world No 1 Dustin Johnson by two strokes.

Johnson has a great record of winning tournaments when he holds the 54-hole lead, but he took 77 shots to complete his final round and had to settle for second place alongside Henrik Stenson and US Open champion Brooks Koepka. It was Rose's first victory since he took the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio last year, but it should not come as a surprise as he has been in a rich vein of form, despite suffering a troublesome shoulder injury. He finished in the top 10 in each of the four FedEx Cup Playoff events.

The victory is Rose's second WGC title after the 2012 WGC-Cadillac Championship which started his run of six consecutive seasons with a European Tour victory – the longest active streak on Tour – and moves him up to third in the Race to Dubai Rankings.

"This is really, really satisfying," he said. "All players pride themselves on winning and I've won every year since 2010 (worldwide). I was very aware that that was slipping away from me this year. To win a WGC is just amazing, they count for so much on both tours. It's an incredible start to my 2018 PGA Tour campaign and gives me a real shot in the Race to Dubai as well.”

Johnson was expected to disappear into the sunset but he dropped a shop at the opening hole and another at the second when he lost his ball. Rose closed the gap when he birdied the second and then holed a long putt at the third to join Koepka four shots behind Johnson. Now we had a tournament on our hands.

Koepka three-putted the third and bogeyed the fourth after finding sand, with Rose dropping  a shot on the sixth thanks to bunker trouble of his own.

Stenson started with five pars but a brilliant tee-shot to the sixth took him to 11 under and he was soon joined by Rose who got up and down from a bunker on the short seventh. Stenson birdied the same hole and was now only three adrift.

It looked like Rose's challenge was running out of steam when he three-putted the eighth and then found a hazard at the next, but he bounced back with a birdie on the 11th. At this point it looked like Koepka might be the man to catch Johnson as he birdied both the 10th and 11th holes.

Stenson dropped a shot at the 11th but got it straight back at the next as Johnson was dropping another shot to par.

Rose birdied the 13th and 14th and now he was within striking distance. Koepka also birdied the 14th but when both he and Johnson found sand at the 15th it all changed again. Johnson dropped a shot while Koepka took a double bogey. Rose took a share of the lead at the 16th and when Johnson bogeyed the same hole, incredibly, the Englishman found himself in the lead.

A Stenson birdie meant he was tied with Rose on 13 under but the English golfer wasn't finished yet and put his tee shot at the 17th to three feet, holed the putt for a two and was back in front. Stenson bogeyed the 17th and finished with a 70 to claim second place at this tournament for the second consecutive season.

"I needed to regroup going into the back nine," added Rose. "I kind of told myself I was four down playing the golf course. I played match play against the golf course coming in. I didn't know if 13 [under] was going to be good enough, I kind of figured I was playing for second and I thought 13 was going to be an important number to get to for that.

“I saw DJ get back to about 14 or 15 and the game was on so it was certainly exciting coming down the stretch.”

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and Americans Peter Uihlein and Kyle Stanley finished at eight under, a shot clear of Brian Harman and two ahead of England's Matthew Fitzpatrick and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.


Jens Dantorp produced one of the shots of the season to seal victory at the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge, beating Adrian Meronk in a dramatic play-off thanks to an eagle. 

The Swede had narrowly missed out on an eagle that would have won the title in regulation play, tapping in for a birdie to take the tournament to extra holes at Al Hamra GC, but at the second time of asking he put his approach to six feet on the par five 18th hole and holed the putt.

The victory secured Dantorp his place in next week’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final – only the top 45 in the Road to Oman Rankings will contest the Muscat shootout and the 28-year-old climbed 35 places to 13th place with this win.

The top 15 in the final rankings will earn European Tour cards and for Dantorp,it would mean joining fellow Swede Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai. “It’s one of the best shots of my career,” he said. “I just had one shot in mind walking up 18: Henrik Stenson’s in Dubai on 18 a couple of years ago. I tried to repeat that and I was close on the first time – the second time I pulled it off though.It feels great to win. It’s been a couple of years since my last win so I was really chasing another one and today was the day, so it feels great.

“I don’t know what it is about the Middle East that brings out my best golf. I enjoy it when it’s warm, I like the grass around here and I’m just comfortable around these courses.

“I saw on the 17th that Adrian was 15 under and I expected him to birdie the last, so I was going for an eagle to try to get in a playoff. I got to the green and saw he had finished on 15 under so I had a putt for the win. Unfortunately it lipped out but I managed to roll in the eagle on the play-off instead.

“I’m just going to keep going next week in Oman. Hopefully I’ll play well there again – I love the place over there and I’m looking forward to another great week and hopefully I can do enough to get a European Tour card.”

Meronk led for much of the day, setting the clubhouse target at 15 under par with a closing round of 67. Dantorp, however, was three groups behind him and, after a birdie at the 14th to close the gap to one, narrowly missed his eagle on the last hole, settling for a similarly bogey-free 68 to reach 15 under as well.

Meronk can console himself with a spot in the Grand Final field – knowing only a top two finish would suffice to move up enough from 79th, he will close a memorable rookie season on the Challenge Tour with a chance to gain European Tour status next week.

Clément Sordet, playing alongside Meronk, took third place on 14 under par – a result that moves the Frenchman inside the top 15 of the Rankings – with Christopher Mivis, Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin one shot further back in a share of fourth.

Overnight leader Chase Koepka dropped shots early and never recovered, his one-shot lead evaporating and his closing round of 74 leaving him in a share of 15th place.

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