Dustin can avenge Ryder Cup mauling
Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China
DUSTIN Johnson was understandably seething after his Ryder Cup pummelling in Paris, and he is raring to exact revenge for more reasons than one in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
The entire affair in the French capital must still be raw for Johnson, especially as he lost four successive matches following his one win on the opening morning as the United States suffered a 17½ - 10½ mauling at the hands of Europe.
And Johnson also has bitter memories of what happened in Shanghai 12 months ago when he led by six from compatriot Brooks Koepka and by eight from Justin Rose with one round remaining only to collapse.
What occurred in the final round left Johnson utterly deflated and Rose thoroughly elated – the Englishman compiled a closing 67 to win by two with Johnson, who slumped to a dismal 77, compelled to share second place with Henrik Stenson and Koepka.
It will also not be lost on Johnson that two of his defeats at Le Golf National came at the hands of Rose before his Ryder Cup was savagely terminated by a shattering defeat in the singles at the hands of Ian Poulter.
Now Johnson is seeking to glean retribution from Rose and Poulter, not to mention eight more of Europe’s 2018 winning Ryder Cup team, by winning a title he seized in 2013 in which year he edged out defending champion Poulter.
It was to be the first of five World Golf Championship triumphs for Johnson – he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2015, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2016 then the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2017.
Johnson, who also won the US Open in 2016, has spent more than 80 weeks as Official World Number One – to add flavour he is currently vying for top spot with Rose and Koepka – and with three wins this year he has 19 PGA Tour titles to his name.
The 34-year-old from South Carolina enjoys the 7,261 yards (par 72) Sheshan International course – he was also fifth in 2015 – and he can put last year’s mishap behind him by claiming the title again most probably at the expense of Koepka.
Koepka, 28, recently received the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award which came as no surprise following his glorious defence of the US Open in June which he followed by winning the US PGA Championship.
Rose, fifth in 2013 and seventh in 2011, has an affinity for the course so he cannot be ruled out while past winners Francisco Molinari and Poulter look certain to contend.
Poulter has missed the last two editions but his tournament record is outstanding – he was also sixth in 2014 – and he is a remarkable 74 under par for the seven tournaments he has played at Sheshan with only two over par rounds in 28.
Whereas ten of Europe’s Ryder Cup team are competing – Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are the only absentees – the Americans are much lighter in numbers with only Tony Finau and Patrick Reed joining Johnson and Koepka which means the likes of Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods are all missing from this WGC.
Keegan Bradley, however, is worthy of an investment following his BMW Championship play off win against Rose in September – his first success for six years – on a layout where he has numbered three top 25 finishes in four attempts.
Bitter memories: Dustin Johnson