USGA CHAMPIONS
Stunning Final Day Lands Rose in Winner's Circle October 30, 2017 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, seen here competing at Erin Hills in June, rallied from eight shots back to win in China. (USGA/JD Cuban)

Justin Rose began Sunday’s final round of the WGC-HSBC Championship at Shanghai International in the People’s Republic of China figuring he was playing for second place. The 2013 U.S. Open champion had every reason to have that mindset, as world No. 1 and 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson owned a six-shot lead through 54 holes. Rose began the day eight strokes behind.

But in breezy conditions, Johnson, who was seeking his third WGC and fifth PGA Tour title of 2017, shockingly faded, carding a 5-over-par 77, opening the door for the rest of the field. Rose, whose last victory was his gold-medal performance in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, took full advantage. The 37-year-old produced a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over Johnson, reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.

"It's the kind of day you certainly don't expect," said Rose after claiming his second career WGC title. He won the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2012. . "It's the kind of  day you hope for — dream for — but a lot of things need to go your way in order for a day like today to happen, coming from eight shots behind, especially going against a player like DJ."

The affable Englishman realized he had a reasonable chance of winning when he saw the leader board behind the green of the par-5 14th hole. He got up and down for birdie by executing a tough bunker shot and kept his momentum going by holing a 10-footer for par on No. 15. Rose added birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, then parred 18 to match Phil Mickelson for the day’s lowest round.

"It was the perfect type of weather conditions to make a comeback," said Rose, who fired a back-nine 31. "This is the type of day when you are playing with a lead, every hole seems difficult. Obviously, someone is still capable of playing a special round of golf. And my back nine was just amazing today."

Meanwhile, Johnson’s opening two holes portended what was to come, as he made consecutive bogeys out of the gate.

“I just could never get anything going and didn't hole any putts,” Johnson said. “It was pretty simple.”

 For Kerr, 40 is the New 20

Cristie Kerr turned 40 nearly three weeks ago, but the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open champion isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

In her 20th season on the LPGA Tour, the native Floridian registered career victory No. 20, converting a 30-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to claim the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia by one stroke over 2010 and 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang, Shanshan Feng and Jacqui Concolino.

“What a way to win,” said Kerr. “I always said I wanted to get a win in my 40s, and I got it pretty quick.”

Kerr is the 27th player in the tour’s history to collect 20 wins, and is the first player over 40-to reach the winner’s circle since then-42-year-old Catriona Matthew claimed the 2011 Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Kerr is also five points away from qualifying for induction into the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame.

Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Sung Hyun Park closed with weekend 67s to tie for fifth, while 2015 U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun fired a final-round 66 to tie for ninth.

Top Honor for Goodwin … Again

Reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin, 17, of Corinth, Texas, became just the fifth player in American Junior Golf Association history to be named its Rolex Junior Player of the Year in consecutive years. Goodwin, who in July defeated Matthew Wolff, 1 up, at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan., joined fellow USGA champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brian Harman, as well as Tracy Phillips, in this distinguished group. A year after falling to Australia’s Min Woo Lee in the 36-hole final at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., Goodwin rallied from a 4-down deficit with eight holes to play to become the seventh Texan to claim the U.S. Junior Amateur title since 1999.

“It is an honor to be named the 2017 Rolex Junior Player of the Year,” said Goodwin, who plans to enroll at Southern Methodist University in January. “To win this award for two consecutive years is such a blessing. I am grateful to my family, friends, Coach Cameron McCormick, Rolex and the AJGA for making this award possible.”

Goodwin learned earlier this month that, by way of his U.S. Junior Amateur victory, he earned a spot in the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. It was announced on Oct. 5 that the champions of the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur would be exempt into the following year’s U.S. Open, and the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions into the U.S. Women’s Open

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., who finished tied for 33rd as the youngest competitor in the 2017U.S. Women’s Open,was named the Rolex Girls Player of the Year.

Shuai Ming Wong, who partnered with Frankie Capan to win this year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, and reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd earned first-team AJGA All-America selections.

One-Man Show

When nine-time USGA champion Tiger Woods was at the height of his dominance, many of his fellow professionals probably thought they were always playing for second place. Right now, members of the 50-and-over circuit are likely thinking the same thing about Bernhard Langer.

The 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion claimed his seventh victory of the 2017 PGA Tour Champions season by making a birdie on the second playoff hole to edge Miguel Angel Jimenez in the PowerShares QQQ Championship at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Langer, 60, of Germany, now has 36 career PGA Tour Champions titles, nine shy of the all-time record held by five-time USGA champion Hale Irwin.

Although Langer holds a significant lead over Scott McCarron in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, anyone in the top 5 can win this year’s title at the season-ending Charles Schwab Championship at Phoenix (Ariz.) Country Club in two weeks. That includes 2017 U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry, who sits in third position.

 “It puts me in a great mind and great ease [going into the last event]. I’m swinging the club fairly well and I enjoy the way I am hitting my new driver,” said Langer after his victory. There were a few iron shots that leaked to the right. That’s my weakness. I’ve got to figure out why that is happening. I think I know. But the rest of the game seems pretty solid.”

His fellow competitors would be hard-pressed to disagree.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.