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Shanghai • It took only four holes over two days for Dustin Johnson to lose a six-shot lead in the HSBC Champions. All that mattered was the high-powered kick down the stretch Sunday at Sheshan International that brought him the biggest win of his career.
In what felt like the end of a long year and beginning of a new season, Johnson broke loose from a three-way challenge on the back nine by playing a five-hole stretch in 5-under par. He closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-shot win over Ian Poulter to capture his first World Golf Championship title.
Johnson set a tournament record at 24-under 264. He now has won in each of his first seven seasons on the PGA Tour, the most by any player since Tiger Woods won in his first 14 seasons through 2009.
"It's the biggest win I've had in my career so far," he said. "Those guys put a lot of pressure on me. I'm really proud of the way I handled myself."
This one required a little bit of everything.
One shot behind with six holes to play, he smashed his drive over the corner of a dogleg on the 13th hole that left him a short wedge into 5 feet for birdie to catch Poulter. Right when it looked as though he would fall behind again, Johnson holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the next hole.
It was a pitch-in for eagle that effectively won the tournament.
With a one-shot lead playing the par-4 16th, Johnson hit a 3-iron about 25 yards short of the green with a front pin. The pitch was perfect, rolling into the cup like it was a putt.
For most of the back nine, the top seven players on the leaderboards consisted of Johnson and half of Europe's winning Ryder Cup team from Medinah.
Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who each had a share of the lead at some point, looked capable of winning until Johnson's late heroics. Right behind them were Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, all firing away with birdies on a soft course but unable to catch up.
In San Francisco, Fred Couples won the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Kenny Perry topped the yearlong points race to earn a $1 million annuity.
Couples ended a 16-event winless streak dating to the Senior British Open in July 2012, closing with a 2-under 69 for a six-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer, Peter Senior and Mark O'Meara. The Hall of Famer has nine victories in four seasons on the 50-and-over tour after winning 15 times on the PGA Tour.
Couples finished at 17-under 267 at TPC Harding Park.
Dustin Johnson -24
Ian Poulter -21
Graeme McDowell -20
Sergio Garcia -18
Justin Rose -16
Rory McIlroy -15
Graham DeLaet -15