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MailTribune.com
  • Johnson ties course record at HSBC

  • SHANGHAI — Dustin Johnson tied the course record with a 9-under 63, four shots better than anyone else Friday, and built a five-shot lead in the HSBC Champions. It was the kind of score that might make everyone else wonder which course he was playing.
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  • SHANGHAI — Dustin Johnson tied the course record with a 9-under 63, four shots better than anyone else Friday, and built a five-shot lead in the HSBC Champions. It was the kind of score that might make everyone else wonder which course he was playing.
    Except that Graeme McDowell saw the whole thing.
    Crouched behind the 10th green at Sheshan International, McDowell looked over at the powerful American and said, "I've probably seen 18 of the best drives I've seen all year in the last two days." Moments later, after Johnson blasted another one down the middle, McDowell saw No. 19.
    It was an impressive display, Johnson at his very best with the most important club in his bag. He ran off six birdies in his opening seven holes. He never hit more than 8-iron into a par 4. He twice came within 15 yards of driving the green on par 4s.
    Johnson became the sixth player with a 63 at Sheshan International, last achieved by Martin Kaymer in the final round in 2011. He was at 12-under 132, five shots clear of Rory McIlroy (72), Bubba Watson (69) and Boo Weekley (67).
    McIlroy couldn't keep up. No one could.
    McIlroy, who started the second round of this World Golf Championship with a two-shot lead, made three birdies on the front nine to stretch his lead to four shots. At that point, Johnson was just getting warmed up. And it wasn't long before McIlroy started to cool off. He drove into the same bunker he was in on Thursday and made another bogey, and he didn't give himself any birdie chances over the last six holes.
    On the par-5 14th, his wedge went just over the green and forced him to hit a delicate chip to save par. On the reachable par-4 16th, he drove into a tiny pot bunker left of the green and took two to get out, again scrambling for par. And on the par-5 18th, McIlroy hit his second shot into the water and made bogey.
    McDowell, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Ian Poulter were among those at 6-under 138. Phil Mickelson, trying to recover from his quadruple bogey-bogey finish to the opening round, had a 68 and was seven shots behind.
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