Sport Golf

Monday 23 April 2018

Johnson catches field in Spider web

Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the sixth tee during the second round of the WGC - HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the sixth tee during the second round of the WGC - HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

William S Callahan

A new putter helped world number one Dustin Johnson produce a stunning burst of scoring to claim the halfway lead in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Johnson birdied six of the last seven holes at Sheshan International in a brilliant, bogey-free 63 to reach 13-under par, a shot ahead of first-round leader Brooks Koepka.

Koepka also kept a bogey off his card as he added a 68 to his opening 64, leaving the US Open champion three clear of Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

A victory for Johnson tomorrow would make him the first player to win three World Golf Championship events in the same year after he won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and WGC-Mexico Championship on back-to-back starts in March.

"Obviously I played very well," Johnson said after covering the back nine in 29. "But I actually got a putter like about 20 minutes before I teed off. It's a (TaylorMade) Spider, so it's one that I've used before.

"I wasn't really pleased with the one I played with (on Thursday), so the guys here in China made me one. I got it right before I walked to the tee. I hit a few putts on the practice green with it and I was like, 'Oh, this will work pretty well'. I went out and holed a lot of putts, so I kind of like it."

Johnson also clearly likes the course at Sheshan International, where his 24-under-par winning total in 2013 included a second round of 63.

"It suits my eye very well," the 33-year-old added. "For me, if I drive it good out here, I feel like I can make a lot of birdies."

Johnson and Koepka are good friends and neighbours in Florida, although most of their time together is spent relaxing or in the gym, rather than on the course.

"It will be fun, nice to play with him," Koepka said. "We actually talked about it on Saturday when we played at home. I don't think we've ever actually been in contention together."

Pleased

Rose was disappointed to bogey the par-five 18th in his 68, but was pleased with his overall performance as he continues to struggle with a shoulder problem.

Paul Dunne failed to build on his opening 67, a one-over-par 73 leaving the Greystones man on four-under and in a tie for 22nd.

It could have been so much better but a double-bogey on his 17th hole, the par-five eighth, cost him a place in the top ten overnight.

Elsewhere, Seamus Power continued to hold on to a top-10 place during the second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi last night. Power, who carded an opening four-under-par 68, was four-under for his second round through 16 holes last night before play was halted by inclement weather. The Waterford man was sitting tied third on eight-under par, just two off the pace of club house leader Ryan Armour.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods yesterday pleaded guilty in a Florida court to reckless driving and entered a programme for first-time offenders, avoiding a conviction on the charge of driving under the influence (DUI) .

The 41-year-old was found asleep in May behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz, which was parked alongside a road not far from his home on Jupiter Island.

Woods entered his plea and accepted the conditions, including 12 months of probation, by responding to questions from Florida Circuit Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo. He will now enter a diversion programme offered in Palm Beach County for first-time DUI offenders.

Woods is eligible for the programme since he had no prior criminal record, cooperated with police and was not involved in a crash, said Dave Aronberg, state attorney. Woods has already completed 50 hours of community service.

Sanderson Farms Championship

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 7.30pm

WGC-HSBC Champions

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 4.0am

Irish Independent

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