Despite Big Lead, Dustin Johnson Can't Afford Big Misses In WGC-HSBC Champions Final Round

By Brandon Raper
Brett Davis – USA TODAY Sports

During much of the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions, Dustin Johnson looked like a world-beater. He was absolutely on fire, at one point rattling off six birdies in seven holes on his way to 10 for the round.

He’s really been the best player in the field for the last two rounds, and could have had this tournament all but locked up heading into the final round. Instead, he still has a solid three-stroke lead on Ian Poulter, and four over Graeme McDowell, but with several players going low, he must find a way to keep grinding.

Johnson has become one of the bigger fan favorites on the PGA Tour for his incredible driving ability, and for the most part it has served him well this week. Rare is the par-5 that he can’t reach in two, assuming he can find some short grass to play from. When the wheels start to fall off, however, he can be prone to putting up the big number and giving away leads that should have been near locks.

If Johnson doesn’t finish the job at Sheshan International on Sunday afternoon, he’ll be kicking himself for the way he made the two costly double bogeys on the back nine on Saturday. Having to replay his tee shot on 18 was bad enough, but the lasting memory could be those four approach shots that it took just to hold the green on the par-4 10th before making a clutch putt to stop the bleeding.

I’ve had a rough start to the season in my predictions, but despite the troubles, I think DJ will find a way to keep it together on Sunday. Take out the two blow-up holes and Johnson is leaving the rest of the field in his dust, and that should continue through the finale.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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