Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Dustin Johnson shot a 4-under-par 68 in blustery conditions that led to big numbers, building a six-shot lead in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and leaving him one round away from becoming the first player to win three World Golf Championships in the same year.
He got plenty of help from Brooks Koepka.
They were tied for the lead through seven holes Saturday until a four-shot swing on the par-5 eighth hole. Koepka drove into the hazard off the tee, and then found the hazard again on his approach to the green. He missed a 6-foot putt and took triple-bogey 8.
Johnson smashed his drive over the trees and into the fairway, and with a thick splotch of mud on his golf ball, he sent that into the left rough above the green. He hit a flop shot to 15 feet and holed it for birdie.
Just like that, his lead was four shots, and no one got any closer the rest of the way.
Johnson was at 17-under 199.
Koepka hit into the water from a bunker on the par-5 closing hole at Sheshan International and had to make a 6-footer to save bogey. That gave him a 73, leaving him six shots behind.
Henrik Stenson, finally starting to round into form, shot 69 and was at 10-under 206.
Even with more wind anticipated Sunday, this was turning into another exhibition for Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player.
‘‘I'm in a good position going into tomorrow,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘But I’m still going to have to go out and play a really solid round if I want to get it done.’’
Johnson earlier this year won the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas. Not even Tiger Woods with his 18 titles in the World Golf Championships ever won more than two in one year.
Koepka discovered the hard way how big numbers can wreck a round.
The US Open champion was practically flawless at the start, running off three straight birdies to take a two-shot lead. Johnson responded with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth and driving into the rough just short of the par-4 seventh green, hitting a delicate flop-and-run to 3 feet for birdie to catch Koepka.
And then after a lengthy wait on the tee at No. 8, it all changed.
With the wind at the players’ backs, and with sheer power of Johnson and Koepka, the line was over trees that have grown so tall in recent years they can’t see the fairway. Johnson hammered his tee shot and knew from experience he was fine.
Koepka caught his drive on the toe and it turned over from right to left. His caddie ran down toward the area to see if he had a shot, and quickly realized it was gone. Koepka hit his third shot from the tee, and then his fourth turned left into the hazard again. He had no choice but to take another penalty and head back to the fairway, and after a good wedge, he missed the putt for his 8.
Koepka also missed good birdie chances on No. 9 and 11, and good par chances on Nos. 10 and 12 that he felt could have given him momentum.
LPGA — Cristie Kerr fired a 6-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Feng Shanshan at the Sime Darby in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The American veteran, who posted the tournament’s lowest score of 63 on Friday, had five birdies in the opening nine holes of the third round and got two more for an overall 15-under 198.
Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko, the first-round leader, saw her title challenge all but end after posting a 70 to end the day tied for 12th at 7-under 206.
Feng stayed in contention after she shot 3-under 68, despite only managing three birdies in tropical conditions at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
South Korea’s Kim Sei-young is four shots behind Kerr in third, while American duo Stacy Lewis and Jacqui Concolino are tied for fourth.
PGA — Ryan Armour shot a 5-under 67 in a windy, chilly third round to take a five-stroke lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.
Armour, who led by one after 36 holes, had eight birdies and three bogeys to move to 15 under 201. Chesson Hadley (68) was next at 10 under. Vaughn Taylor (70), Scott Strohmeyer (68), Beau Hossler (69), Ben Silverman (69), and Seamus Power (71) were tied for third at 207.
Armour, 41, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 105th Tour event.
Champions — Bernhard Langer shot his second straight 3-under 69 to pull into a tie with David Toms and Miguel Angel Jimenez for the second-round lead at the PowerShares QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Scott McCarron (69), Billy Andrade (70) and Jeff Maggert (73) — who was tied with Toms for the lead after the first round — were one shot back.
David Price couldn’t beat the Twins, and the Sox have dropped four of five games.Continue reading »
The proceedings begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, and here is how the first round could go.Continue reading »
The famed lefty and his son are alarmed at the number of operations being done on teen-agers and the overall ill effects of youth sports.Continue reading »
Lately, Don Sweeney & Co. have been on target in the tricky game of gauging amateur talent.Continue reading »
He also shared his thoughts on the Celtics possibly drafting Grayson Allen.Continue reading »
It was viewed as a sign that the Celtics had great interest in the Final Four’s most outstanding player.Continue reading »
Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. will go in the first 10 picks.Continue reading »
The Miami guard, who has an unusual collection of skills, has dreamed of playing for the Celtics.Continue reading »
The Auerbach Center, said team owner Wyc Grousbeck, “is the foundation of our future excellence.”Continue reading »