Dustin can avenge Ry­der Cup maul­ing

She­shan In­ter­na­tional GC, Shang­hai, China

The Racing Paper - - Golf | Formula One - by Mitchell Platts

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

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