SHANGHAI (AP) – The momentum at the HSBC Champions belongs to US Open champion Martin Kaymer and Masters champion Bubba Watson.
The lead still belongs to Graeme McDowell.
And the mystery is Hiroshi Iwata, the journeyman from Japan and a surprise guest among major champions atop the leaderboard Saturday in the final World Golf Championship of the year.
McDowell ducked in from the cold, grey afternoon at Sheshan International and wrapped his hand around a warm cup of coffee. He did not look the least bit worried after watching a four-shot lead dwindle to one over the final eight holes.
“Let’s be honest. Yes, I had a three-shot lead overnight and it’s only one now,” McDowell said after his 1-under 71. “But I’ll take this position any week that you offer it to me – a one-shot lead going into the last round on a golf course that I enjoy. Looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.”
Even so, he was under no illusions of the test that awaited him Sunday.
McDowell was at 11-under 205, one shot ahead of Iwata, who made a long, curling birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 68, and two shots ahead of Kaymer and Watson.
McDowell knows all about the history of Kaymer at Sheshan International, how the German made nine birdies over the last 12 holes to win the HSBC Champions in 2011. Kaymer zoomed into contention Saturday with seven birdies in a round of 66 and will play in the last group.
As for Watson? McDowell played alongside him in the third round and saw plenty.
“Bubba was awfully impressive today – all day,” McDowell said. “The mistake he made on 10 was very uncharacteristic, and then missed a short one on 12. But the rest of his golf was incredible.”