McDowell clings to slim lead through 54 at WGC-HSBC


Graeme McDowell will start the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in the same place he started Moving Day – in front, with a chance to close out his first PGA Tour win in more than a year and a half. He’s got plenty of company however, with other major winners and stars lurking just off the lead. Here's how things stand after 54 holes in Shanghai, China:

Leaderboard: Graeme McDowell (-11), Hiroshi Iwata (-10), Martin Kaymer (-9), Bubba Watson (-9), Rickie Fowler (-8), Tim Clark (-8), Thorbjorn Olesen (-7), Ian Poulter (-7)

What it means: The HSBC is providing some compelling action at a time of the year when golf might normally be the furthest thing from the mind of most casual fans. McDowell, who led after the first two days with opening rounds of 67-67, had his lead cut to just one Saturday and is now surrounded by plenty of capable names ready to pounce at the sign of the slightest slip-up. With eight guys within five shots of the lead, Sunday’s WGC trophy is pretty much up for grabs.

Round of the day: After an even-par second round, Martin Kaymer made the biggest Saturday move among those near the top of the leaderboard with a 6-under 66 to pull within two shots of McDowell. Kaymer got off to a hot start with four birdies on the front nine, turning in 32. He added three birdies on the back against a lone bogey and is in position to add another title to a 2014 that already includes wins and the Players and U.S. Open.

Best of the rest: Hiroshi Iwata, who is in the field based on his standing on the Japan Golf Tour's Order of Merit, refuses to fade despite big-time stars McDowell, Poulter, Watson, Kaymer and Fowler overshadowing the feel-good story of the tournament. Iwata birdied two of his final three holes Saturday to finish with a 4-under 68 and will play in the final group Sunday with McDowell.

Biggest disappointment: Starting the day just five shots behind McDowell, a strong third round would’ve put Kevin Na in the mix for his first PGA Tour win since 2011. But he found himself sliding the wrong direction on Moving Day, finishing with a 7-over 79 – 11 shots worse than Friday – that leaves him well out of the mix with one round to play.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: With so many big names near the top of the leaderboard, there’s sure to be some Sunday fireworks in China. Can McDowell go wire to wire? Will Bubba add a WGC title to his two green jackets? Can Kaymer build on his Saturday momentum? Will Iwata spoil the party? Only time will tell.