McDowell clings to 1-shot lead in HSBC Champions
SHANGHAI — The momentum at the HSBC Champions belongs to U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and Masters champion Bubba Watson.
The lead still belongs to Graeme McDowell.
And the mystery is Hiroshi Iwata, the journeyman from Japan and a surprise guest among major champions atop the leaderboard Saturday in the final World Golf Championship of the year.
McDowell ducked in from the cold, gray afternoon at Sheshan International and wrapped his hand around a warm cup of coffee. He did not look the least bit worried after watching a four-shot lead dwindle to one over the final eight holes.
“Let’s be honest. Yes, I had a three-shot lead overnight and it’s only one now,” McDowell said after his 1-under 71. “But I’ll take this position any week that you offer it to me — a one-shot lead going into the last round on a golf course that I enjoy. Looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.”
McDowell was at 11-under 205, one shot ahead of Iwata, who made a long, curling birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 68, and two shots ahead of Kaymer and Watson.
McDowell knows all about the history of Kaymer at Sheshan International, how the German made nine birdies over the last 12 holes to win the HSBC Champions in 2011. Kaymer zoomed into contention Saturday with seven birdies in a round of 66 and will play in the last group.
As for Watson? McDowell played alongside him in the third round and saw plenty.
“Bubba was awfully impressive today — all day,” McDowell said. “The mistake he made on 10 was very uncharacteristic, and then missed a short one on 12. But the rest of his golf was incredible.”
Watson hit a long iron for his second shot at the par-5 eighth that nearly went in for an albatross, only to miss the 4-foot eagle attempt. His big gaffe was a wedge on the 10th that caught a plugged lie in the bunker, followed by a three-putt from 40 feet for double bogey. He three-putted the 17th late in the round. But he also ran off four birdies over the last five holes for a 69 and joined Kaymer at 9-under 207.
“A couple three-putts today and a double bogey. That’s sad,” Watson said. “But the birdies down the stretch really helped out.”
SANDERSON FARMS: At Jackson, Miss., Ashland’s Jason Allred finished off an even-par second round to start the day, making the cut on the number in the Sanderson Farms Championship, then shot a 1-over 73 in Round 3.
Allred was among 15 players unable to complete the second round Friday because of darkness.
On Saturday, he had a wild round: one eagle, three birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey. He’s tied for 68th place.
John Rollins took a two-stroke lead birdieing two of the final five holes for a 4-under 68.
Tied with David Toms for the second-round lead, Rollins had a three-round total of 14-under 202. He won the last of his three PGA Tour titles in 2009.
William McGirt was second after a 66, matching the best round of the day. Jason Bohn and Lucas Glover were third at 11 under. Bohn also shot 66, and Glover had a 67.
MIZUNO CLASSIC: At Shima, Japan, Laura Davies remained in contention to become the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history, shooting a 5-under 67 for a share of the second-round lead in the Mizuno Classic.
The 51-year-old English player had seven birdies and two bogeys at Kintetsu Kashikojima to match Japan’s Ai Suzuki and South Korea’s Ilhee Lee at 9-under 135. Suzuki had a 64, and Lee shot 66.
Davies won the last of her 21 LPGA Tour titles in 2001. She also has 45 victories on the Ladies European Tour, the most recent in the 2010 Indian Women’s Open.