That wasn’t the problem — for Johnson and most everyone else.
Martin Kaymer, who won the HSBC Champions two years ago by tying the course record with a 63 in the final round, went one better. The German started with six birdies in seven holes and thought briefly about a 59 with three straight birdies on the front nine that put him at 10-under with three to play. He missed an 8-foot birdie on No. 7, failed to birdie the par-5 eighth and had to settle for a course record 62.
Kaymer was eight shots behind.
“I’ve shot 59 before and I thought, ‘There’s a chance,’ especially after my birdies on 4, 5, 6,” Kaymer said. “But you can’t make them all.”
McDowell was six shots out of the lead when he finished and it looked as though he might lose ground to Johnson. Even so, McDowell has a lot at stake on Sunday at No. 2 on the European Tour money list, and he could move past Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai if he were to finish alone in second.
“From here, it looks like Dustin is going to have to beat himself for anybody to have a chance to catch him,” McDowell said. “Race to Dubai points will be very important to me. I have a lot to play for tomorrow. If not the trophy, second place will certainly be worth my while.”
And then, the trophy became a little more realistic.
“I have to do my thing tomorrow,” Poulter said. “It’s only Saturday. You can’t win tournaments on Saturday. It’s all about playing well on Sunday.”