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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 30, 2017 1:00 am

Golf

Johnson's collapse opens door for Rose to win

Associated Press

SHANGHAI – Justin Rose posed with the trophy from the balcony high above the 18th green at Sheshan International, a moment that didn't seem possible.

He started the final round eight shots behind Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world.

“The beginning of the day, I was playing for second,” Rose said.

The HSBC Champions turned into a shocker in Shanghai when Johnson went into the PGA Tour record books for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of becoming the first player to win three World Golf Championships in one year, he tied a record for losing the largest lead in the final round. Six shots clear of the field, Johnson didn't make a single birdie on a wild, wind-blown Sunday for a collapse that even Rose didn't see coming.

Only when he saw a leader board behind the 14th green and realized he was three shots behind did Rose think he might have a chance. He got up-and-down with a tough bunker shot for birdie. He made a 10-foot par save at the 15th to stay in the game. He birdied the next two holes.

As Rose was signing for a 5-under 67, he looked up and saw Johnson's last hope for eagle on the 18th tumble off the side of the green and into the water.

“It's the kind of day you certainly don't expect,” Rose said after his two-shot victory. “It's the kind of a day you hope for – dream for – but a lot of things need to go your way in order for a day like today to happen, coming from eight shots behind, especially going against a player like DJ.”

Johnson certainly did his part. He shot 77, his highest final round with the lead since an 82 at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open.

“I just could never get anything going and didn't hole any putts,” Johnson said. “It was pretty simple.”

Johnson matched the record for losing a six-shot lead, most recently by Sergio Garcia at Quail Hollow in 2005, most famously by Greg Norman in the 1996 Masters.

The one-man show turned into a four-man race in the final hour, and Rose seized on it with a 31 on the back nine. He finished at 14-under 274. Johnson tied for second with Henrik Stenson (70) and Brooks Koepka (71), who also had their chances.

Only two other players in PGA Tour history have come from more than eight shots behind on the final day to win – Paul Lawrie (10 shots) in the 1999 British Open and Stewart Cink (nine shots) at Hilton Head in 2004.

“It was the perfect type of weather conditions to make a comeback,” Rose said. “This is the type of day when you are playing with a lead, every hole seems difficult. Obviously, someone is still capable of playing a special round of golf. And my back nine was just amazing today.”

PGA: In Jackson, Mississippi, Ryan Armour's final round at the Sanderson Farms Championship was downright boring, which was exactly the plan.

Armour, 41, earned his first PGA Tour win on Sunday, shooting a 4-under 68 to beat Chesson Hadley by five shots at the Country Club of Jackson.

Armour began the final round with a five-shot lead and was never seriously challenged. He won for the first time in 105 career starts, nailing fairway after fairway in bright sunshine and cool temperatures to avoid any drama.

“It's a big monkey off my back, I'm not going to lie,” said Armour, who finished at 19 under for the tournament. “There's a lot of emotions running through my head. Part of me wants to fly home immediately and see my wife and kids.

“And part of me wants to go hang out with the boys.”

Jonathan Randolph – a Jackson-area native playing on his home course – briefly made a charge with seven birdies over his first nine holes. That pushed him to 14 under, but Armour was able to maintain some separation thanks to three birdies on his first seven holes.

Randolph eventually cooled off and Armour methodically worked his way around the course with short, but straight drives. He had six birdies and two bogeys Sunday and shot 68 or better in all four rounds.

LPGA: In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Cristie Kerr holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole for an even-par 71 and a one-shot victory in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Kerr was in a four-way tie for the lead until her big putt made her the 27th player in tour history with 20 victories. She was so proud of her winning putt that while waiting for photographers to line up for the trophy presentation, she paced off the putt again.

She won by one shot over Danielle Kang, Shanshan Feng and Jacqui Concolino.

The 40-year-old American became the first player in her 40s to win on the LPGA since Catriona Matthew won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2011 at age 42.

Kerr, who won for the second time this year, finished at 15-under 269.