After starting Sunday at 17-under and six ahead of good friend Brooks Koepka, Johnson conspired to shoot a 5-over 77 as England’s Justin Rose went 10 shots lower to grab the title from under his nose.
Rose’s brilliance, including a 5-under 31 on the final nine holes of the Sheshan Golf Club, was sadly overshadowed by Johnson’s implosion in one of the most shocking results in recent memory.
The 2016 US Open winner failed to make a single birdie Sunday as everything that could go wrong did for the 2013 winner of the tournament.
The day began badly for the 33-year-old with back to back bogeys at the two opening holes but he still held a commanding lead as he righted the ship with seven straight pars on the way to the turn.
But the expected fightback never came on the inward journey and as Rose surged Johnson wilted with bogey at 12, 15 and 16 to fall two behind heading to the 18th tee.
An eagle at the par-5 could have forced a play-off and to his credit Johnson gave it his all but his desperate 3-wood from almost 240 metres dribbled over the back of the green and into water, the final humiliation in a day full of them.
Johnson has shown a knack for putting shock results behind him as evidenced by the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits and his close call at the US Open at Chambers Bay.
But this result will test his mettle in a way those didn’t, Johnson the sole choreographer of his downfall in China.
While Johnson will have plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong Sunday Jason Day will leave China with some good feelings after a strong finish to climb up the leaderboard.
Day was the leading Australian at the end of the week, his 4-under 68 Sunday jumping him 22 places up the standings to T11 and six shots better than next best Marc Leishman.
Leishman was done in by a Friday 79 but fought back over the weekend with scores of 68-71 to be T38 at 1-over for the week.
Leishman and Day were the only Australasians to move forward on Sunday, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox posting a 4-over 76 to fall 13 places to T46 and Adam Scott a 74 to slip one spot to T50.
Scott Hend matched Johnson’s 77 and tumbled 17 places down the standings to T62 while New Zealand’s Michael Hendry posted 76 to fall 13 places to T65.
Matt Griffin, Ash Hall and Andrew Dodt also shot over par Sunday, Griffin ending the week T67 with Hall 74th and Dodt 75th.
SIGNATURE HOLES - 7TH AT THE GLADES (QLD):
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