Shanghai, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Dustin Johnson used a stellar back nine on Sunday to win the WGC - HSBC Champions by three strokes.
Johnson closed with his second straight 6-under 66 to pick up his eighth PGA Tour title. Johnson, who won his first World Golf Championship event, ended the tournament at 24-under-par 264.
"You know, I didn't get off to the best of starts. (Ian) Poulter and (Graeme) McDowell, they got off to great starts and put a lot of pressure on me," Johnson said. "I knew I was swinging well and putting well. I just stuck to my game plan and played the course the way I wanted to play it. Obviously, I played really well the last few holes on the front nine and then had a great back nine.
"The guys made it real interesting. I just played really good coming down the stretch."
His total of 264 shattered the previous scoring record. Poulter, last year's winner, set the old mark of 267.
Poulter birdied three of the first five holes on Sunday to grab the early lead, but a bogey at the 15th opened the door for Johnson. Poulter matched Johnson's 66 to take second at minus-21.
McDowell ran off three straight birdies to begin his round and that helped him grab a piece of the lead. He collected just three more birdies the rest of the way for a bogey-free 66. McDowell took third at 20-under-par 268.
Sergio Garcia fired a 9-under 63 in the final round at Sheshan International Golf Club. He ended alone on fourth at minus-18, while U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (68) was two strokes back at 16-under-par 272.
Graham DeLaet (69) and Rory McIlroy (69) shared sixth at minus-15, while Jamie Donaldson (67), Bubba Watson (68) and Martin Kaymer (68) finished one stroke back at 14-under-par 274.
Johnson got off to a slow start as he bogeyed the first, then parred the next six holes. That allowed Poulter, who birdied the first, second and fifth, to grab the lead at minus-18.
McDowell birdied the first three holes to briefly gain a piece of the lead at 17-under. McDowell poured in a birdie effort at the seventh to join Poulter atop the leaderboard.
Poulter rolled in a 12-footer for birdie on No. 8 to move one clear of McDowell. Johnson made a 5-foot birdie try there to remain one back. Johnson made it two in a row as he birdied the ninth from six feet out.
After three pars in a row, Poulter converted a birdie effort from the fringe at the 12th. McDowell matched that birdie, then Johnson answered with a birdie on 13 that moved him back into a tie for the lead with Poulter.
McDowell poured in a long birdie try at 14 and Johnson answered with a 25-foot birdie putt of his own. Poulter kicked in a short birdie try to remain tied with Johnson.
Poulter hit a poor approach shot on the 15th and that led to a bogey, which left him one behind Johnson.
Johnson promptly slammed the door shut on his playing partners at the 16th. He chipped in for eagle on the short par-4. Poulter made birdie there, but suddenly found himself two shots back.
If that didn't end it, Johnson's 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th did. That gave him a 3-stroke cushion heading to the par-5 closing hole. All three players missed birdie putts from inside 10 at the last to hand Johnson the title.
"Fortunately, I played well coming down the stretch. The last few holes here, if you play them well, you can make some birdies, but they are tough holes," Johnson stated. "It was a lot of fun out there today. It was a good match from both of them."
NOTES: Johnson, who picked up his first European Tour victory earned $1.4 million for the win ... He has won two of the four times in which he led after 54 holes ... With Johnson's win, all four World Golf Championship events were won by Americans. Matt Kuchar (Accenture Match Play) and Tiger Woods (Cadillac Championship and Bridgestone Invitational) were the other WGC winners ... Poulter was looking to join Woods as the only two players to successfully defend a WGC title.