A remarkable final day at the WGC HSBC Champions event in China has seen Justin Rose overcome an eight-stroke deficit to claim his second-ever WGC trophy.
It was Dustin Johnson’s WGC tournament to lose after going into the final round with a six-stroke lead. No one expected Justin Rose to have any chance to win.
But win he did, seizing the opportunity that was offered after Johnson capitulated and failed to make a birdie on a dramatic final day in Shanghai.
It wasn’t hard to think that Justin Rose has no hope of winning the WGC HSBC Champions tournament after you’d seen the Englishman play the par-4 ninth hole during yesterday’s third round.
After hitting his tee shot through the fairway and almost into the hazard, Rose made a simple punch out shot look difficult by smashing it off a cart path and into the trees on the other side of the fairway. His pitch out clattered against a few tree branches and popped out onto the fairway.
A nice chip shot and a good putt somehow saw Rose card a bogey-5, but it wasn’t what you would expect from a pro golfer, let alone someone in contention at a WGC event.
By the end of the round, Rose was eight shots behind Dustin Johnson, who was himself six shots ahead of Brooks Koepka. It was Johnson’s tournament to lose.
And he did, but someone had to take the opportunity presented to them and remarkably, it was Rose who did.
Johnson was eyeing off a piece of history. A victory would see him become the first golfer ever to win three WGC events in the same year.
Johnson made two bogeys in his opening two holes it was game on. The lead had closed to two strokes in two holes with Koepka making birdies on the same two holes.
Rose was also closing in. Just four strokes back after birdies at the second and third holes but he threw his good work away with bogeys before the turn to card an even par 36. It belied the flurry of birdies to come.
Johnson didn’t make a birdie all day but Rose, Koepka and Stenson found a number of them on the back nine. Rose made five without a bogey to get to 14-under and win by two strokes.
It was a majestic display of golf that Rose credited with playing match play against the golf course.
Golf Digest quoted Rose as saying – “I kind of told myself I was 4-down, playing the golf course, so I kind of played match play against the golf course coming in,” Rose said. “I didn’t know if 13 (under) was going to be good enough, I kind of figured I was playing for second or so, and I kind of thought 13 was going to be an important number to get to for that.”
The victory was Rose’s second WGC victory after he won the old WGC CA Championship in 2011. It was Rose’s first on the PGA Tour since the 2013 US Open. Since then he has won just the 2015 Hong Kong Open and the Olympic golf event in 2016.
Jason Day was the best of the Australians climbing 22 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for 11th thanks to a final round 4-under par 68.