Dustin Johnson started with a five-shot lead and made 10 birdies. Two swings kept him from running away from the field Saturday in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
The only consolation was a 6-under-par 66, which gave Johnson a three-shot lead over defending champion Ian Poulter going into the final round of this World Golf Championship. It was the final hole — a three-shot swing — that irritated the 29-year-old American.
Johnson ran off five straight birdies to close out a 30 on the front nine and a five-shot lead over Poulter. For his next trick, the 29-year-old American hit wedge four times from inside 100 yards before he could get the ball on the green at the 10th hole. He had to make a 12-foot putt for double bogey.
Poulter made birdie on the par-5 18th for a 63. Three groups later, Johnson hit a bad drive at the worst time and watched it sail to the right and into the lake. Wanting to be sure he didn’t drop it in the wrong spot, Johnson returned to the tee and wound up with a double bogey. It was his second double bogey of the round.
Johnson is at 18-under 198 and will be in the final group with Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who had a 64 and was four shots behind.
‘‘I have to do my thing tomorrow,’’ Poulter said. ‘‘It’s only Saturday. You can’t win tournaments on Saturday. It’s all about playing well on Sunday. I need to do that. I need to make plenty of birdies, try to make an eagle. If I can, I can get close.’’
Rory McIlroy birdied three of his last five holes for a 67 and was six shots behind, along with Graham DeLaet (65) and Justin Rose (65).
Martin Kaymer started with six birdies in seven holes, getting three straight birdies on the front nine to put him at 10 under with three to play. He missed an 8-foot birdie on No. 7, failed to birdie the par-5 eighth, and had to settle for a course-record 62.
Champions — Fred Couples extended his lead to five strokes after three rounds of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Couples shot a 3-under 68 to reach 15-under 198.
Mark O'Meara (67) was second and Tom Lehman (65) joined Bart Bryant (70) and Peter Senior (72) at 9 under.