Friday, October 28, 2016

Russell Knox three off the pace in Shanghai
Defending champion Russell Knox is three shots behind leader Hideki Matsuyama at the halfway mark of the WGC-HSBC Champions, with Rory McIlroy also into contention among a strong European Tour presence on the leaderboard in Shanghai.

Japan’s Matsuyama fired a superb seven under par second round of 65 in windy conditions at Sheshan International Golf Club to set the pace on 13 under par in the season’s final World Golf Championship event.

Scotland’s Knox, who won the title in his first attempt 12 months ago, remains well-placed to become only the second player following Tiger Woods to defend a WGC title after he posted a 68 to share second place with American Bill Haas, who signed for his second consecutive round of 67 to move to ten under par.

Italian Francesco Molinari, a winner of the tournament in 2010, is a further two shots back on eight under par in a share of fourth place with WGC debutant Richard Bland, of England, who carded a round of 68, and American Daniel Berger, who posted a two under par 70.

Meanwhile, four-time Major Champion McIlroy made significant strides up the leaderboard after firing seven birdies and one bogey in his six under par round of 66. The Northern Irishman, who has four top ten finishes in five appearances in the event, heads into the weekend six shots behind Matsuyama on seven under par in a share of seventh position with English duo Ross Fisher (68) and Paul Casey (70), and China’s Xinjun Zhang.

Player quotes

Hideki Matsuyama: “It was starting to get windy during the warm up this morning and I thought maybe a couple under par would be a good score. So I'm really happy with how it ended up today.

“It was windy and cold and the ball was hard to control. It was tough out there, but I hit some good second shots and made some putts, and that's what made it a good round.

“I've played here before and haven't done well at all, so this is a nice surprise for me. I’m not sure what has made the difference. Maybe it’s my attitude - I’m having fun and enjoying myself.”

Russell Knox: “I had a couple of chances there at the end, which I would have loved to have made. Every shot was very difficult towards the end when it started raining, so I’m thrilled with four under.

“It was a little cold, but I'm built for this. As much as I would say I don't enjoy playing in this weather, I'm good at it. I hope it's like this at the weekend.

“You have to try and find your edge when it’s like that. If you have a good attitude when the weather gets bad, you can maybe pick up half a shot mentally.”

Richard Bland: “I played better yesterday, but I putted great today. Anything between par and 70 is a really good score this round, so to get into the 60s is very satisfying. I had a silly three-putt at the last that leaves a bit of a sour taste, but I've got to look at the bigger picture.
“I’m delighted that I'm playing well in my first WGC event. There’s still a way to go and I’ve just got to keep plugging away, try to make some birdies and keep the odd silly mistake off the card.
“You're battling with jet-lag a little bit but once you're out there and you're playing it’s just a usual game of golf, really.”

Rory McIlroy: “I feel like I actually hit the ball pretty similarly the first two days, but I just holed a few more putts today and was able to take advantage of some of the good drives that I was hitting. A 66 in these conditions is pretty good out there, and it looks like from the way the leaderboard is, I'm going to need a couple more scores like that to have any chance.

“My game feels really good, it really does. Hopefully I can have a good weekend here. There's still a lot to play for this year and I will try to really give myself a chance to win another Race to Dubai.”

par 144 (2x72). Yardage 7,261

131 H Matsuyama  (Jpn) 66 65
134 B Haas  (USA) 67 67, R Knox (Sco) 66 68

136 F Molinari (Ita) 67 69, D Berger (USA) 66 70, R Bland (Eng) 68 68
137 Z Xinjun (Chn) 68 69, R McIlroy  (NIr) 71 66, P Casey  (Eng) 67 70, R Fisher (Eng) 69 68

138 R Fowler  (USA) 65 73, D Burmester (RSA) 68 70
139 R Karlberg  (Swe) 64 75, E Grillo (Arg) 72 67, C Wood  (Eng) 69 70, M Kuchar  (USA) 73 66, L Westwood (Eng) 69 70
140 A Noren  (Swe) 68 72, M Kaymer (Ger) 72 68, H Stenson (Swe) 69 71, S Garcia  (Esp) 68 72, J Luiten (Ned) 72 68
141 T Pieters  (Bel) 71 70, K Chappell (USA) 70 71, J Thomas (USA) 71 70,
142 S Lowry  (Irl) 74 68, W Ashun (Chn) 73 69
143 J Kokrak  (USA) 70 73, B Wiesberger  (Aut) 71 72, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 73, C Schwartzel  (RSA) 72 71, B Koepka  (USA) 73 70, R Moore  (USA) 71 72
144 A Johnston (Eng) 75 69, S Hend (Aus) 72 72, G Bourdy (Fra) 74 70, B Watson (USA) 71 73
145 G Woodland (USA) 71 74, B Dredge (Wal) 72 73, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 71 74, L Haotong (Chn) 73 72, J Holmes (USA) 71 74

146 H Tanihara (Jpn) 73 73, M Fitzpatrick  (Eng) 72 74, K Na (USA) 75 71, T Hatton (Eng) 70 76, S O'Hair (USA) 73 73, L Oosthuizen  (RSA) 71 75

147 J Zunic (Aus) 72 75, R Castro (USA) 73 74, M Millar (Aus) 72 75, A Levy (Fra) 72 75, D Zecheng (Chn) 77 70, L Wenchong (Chn) 72 75

148 K Kim (SKor) 74 74, G Coetzee (RSA) 69 79, M Tabuena (Phi) 72 76, B Grace  (RSA) 73 75, S Kjeldsen (Den) 73 75, D Johnson (USA) 74 74

149 Y Song (SKor) 75 74, A Scott  (Aus) 69 80, B An (SKor) 74 75, J Blaauw  (RSA) 76 73

150 Z Hui-Lin (Chn) 72 78, J Vegas (Ven) 79 71

151 S Piercy (USA) 79 72, M Fraser (Aus) 78 73, R Sterne  (RSA) 77 74

152 S Lee (SKor) 76 76, K Kisner (USA) 72 80, D Willett  (Eng) 74 78

153 P Reed (USA) 78 75, S Chan  (Tpe) 79 74

154 N Holman  (Aus) 75 79

155 S Kim (SKor) 74 81

157 J Walker  (USA) 78 79

158 J Wang (SKor) 82 76



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