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Matsuyama continues great recent form at HSBC Champions

Hideki Matsuyama (Photo: Asian Tour )
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.

“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," said Matsuyama. "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.”

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.

Scott Hend is at even par and leads the Australians in a share of 34th position while Jordan Zunic and matthew Millar are next at 3 over par and in 49th position, Adam Scott a surprise 61st, Marcus Fraser 67th and Nathan Holman 75th.

Complete second round scores (par 72)

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 (Kor) 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 (Kor) 75 74, A Scott  (Aus) 69 80, B An (Kor) 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 (Kor) 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 (Kor) 74 81,

 157 J Walker  (USA) 78 79,

 158 J Wang (Kor) 82 76,

 

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