SHANGHAI • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson suffered a record-tying collapse, as Justin Rose stormed back from eight shots behind overnight to win the WGC-HSBC Champions by two strokes in a thrilling finale in Shanghai yesterday.
The Englishman, who started the day joint-fourth, fired a five-under 67 to finish on 14-under 274 and somehow emerge victorious from a four-way fight that also included Henrik Stenson and Brooks Koepka.
A demoralised Johnson finished tied-second two shots back with Stenson (70) and Koepka (71) after a horror 77.
He was bidding to become the first man to win three World Golf Championship (WGC) titles in a year, but joined Sergio Garcia and Greg Norman with the record for the largest blown lead in surrendering a PGA Tour event.
Garcia lost at Quail Hollow in 2005, with Norman's famous meltdown coming at the 1996 Masters.
Under normal conditions, the odds would have been on Johnson. But Rose said swirling wind blowing through Sheshan International Golf Club meant the conditions were ripe to pull off the biggest comeback of his career.
"It's the kind of 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," said the Olympic champion."
-14 Swing in strokes from Dustin Johnson's second-round 63, when he hit nine birdies and went bogey-free, to his final-round 77, when he did not earn a single birdie.
"It's been a long time since I've won, or at least it feels like that," added Rose, whose stunning five under on the back nine propelled him to victory in the US$9.75 million (S$13.3 million) event.
He kept his streak of winning a title every year since 2010.
"Left it late this year, but it feels amazing," said the 37-year-old.
Johnson was chasing a sixth WGC crown and looked to have put himself out of sight on Saturday with a six-shot lead over fellow American Koepka, who was second overnight. But he started with two bogeys to give the chasing pack hope.
Johnson, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2013, failed to get his putter going all day and was meticulously pegged back by a combination of Rose, Stenson and Koepka.
He said: "I didn't make any putts. I felt like I rolled it good, just nothing was going in the hole."
There was a moment of levity when a black swan invaded the course. But there was nothing for Johnson to smile about when he carded another bogey at the par-three 12th. At that stage, good friend Koepka and last year's runner-up Stenson were two shots behind and Rose was creeping up fast.
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion and playing in the group ahead, sank birdies at the par-four 11th, par-four 13th and par-five 14th.
US Open champion Koepka whittled Johnson's lead down to one shot with a birdie at the 14th. Rose made a seventh birdie at the par-four 16th to draw level for the lead.
Johnson's disaster of a day unravelled further when he found the bunker with his tee shot at the 16th. His pursuers sensed blood when he had his fifth bogey and Rose and Stenson catapulted over him into the joint lead with two holes to play.
Rose made another birdie at the par-three 17th and signed off with par at the 18th, while Stenson's ill-timed bogey at the 17th did him in.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS