2016 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
(3rd of 43 events in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season)
October 27-30 FedExCup points: 550 (winner)
Sheshan International Golf Club
Third-round notes – Saturday, October 29, 2016
Weather: Cloudy, cool and breezy conditions with a high of 59. Wind NNE 10-15 decreasing to 8-12 mph in the afternoon.
The World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is the third event in the PGA TOUR’s wraparound schedule that bridges two years with 43 official regular season events and four FedExCup Playoffs events. Over the span of the PGA TOUR season, players vie to become the FedExCup champion, which distinguishes the one player who not only performs well during the PGA TOUR season, but also excels through the four-event FedExCup Playoffs, culminating with the 2017 TOUR Championship.
Player Score Country Official World Golf Ranking
Hideki Matsuyama 66-65-68—199 (-17) JPN 10
Russell Knox 66-68-68—202 (-14) SCO 20
Daniel Berger 66-70-67—203 (-13) USA 38
Francesco Molinari 67-69-68—204 (-12) ITA 40
Bill Haas 67-67-70—204 (-12) USA 43
Two-time PGA TOUR winner Hideki Matsuyama has made 23 birdies in the first three rounds and holds a three-shot lead at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions through 54 holes. This is the third time he has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR, his previous best finish a T3 at the 2015 Tournament of Champions. Matsuyama, who finished a career-best 13th in the FedExCup last season, won the Japan Open on the Japan Golf Tour two weeks ago before finishing runner-up to Justin Thomas at last week’s CIMB Classic in his 2016-2017 PGA TOUR season debut. The Japan Open was Matsuyama’s sixth international win.
This is the third time Matsuyama has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in his PGA TOUR career. Previous 54-hole leads:
Tournament Through 54-holes Finish position
2014 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational T1 T10
2015 Tournament of Champions T1 T3
2016 WGC-HSBC Champions 1 TBD
In Matsuyama’s two PGA TOUR victories, the 2014 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open, he was third and tied for second heading into the final round in each respective tournament.
With his runner-up finish at the CIMB Classic last week, Matsuyama moved to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, marking the first time in his career that the 24 year old has cracked the top 10. At No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Matsuyama is one of the eight players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking who are playing at this week’s HSBC Champions.
Matsuyama is looking to become the first Japanese player and first player from Asia to win a World Golf Championships event.
Matsuyama defeated Rickie Fowler in a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year. He is looking for his second top-10 finish in a World Golf Championships event in his 14th start and to improve his best finish at the HSBC Champions (T41-2014).
With his third-round 68, Matsuyama has shot in the 60s in each of his last nine rounds on the PGA TOUR dating back to his second-round 71 at the TOUR Championship. In his last seven rounds, Matsuyama is a combined 37-under-par.
Defending champion and two-time PGA TOUR winner Russell Knox picked up where he left off in China last year and is currently 14-under through 54 holes, three back of Matsuyama’s lead. Last year, the 30-year-old Scotsman carded a 4-under 68 on Sunday and posted 20-under 268, good for a two-stroke win over Kevin Kisner. Knox captured his first-career PGA TOUR victory in his 93rd start at the age of 30 years, 4 months 18 days and earned a three-year exemption on TOUR through the 2018-2019 season.
Knox was able to record his second victory of the year later in the season at the Travelers Championship in August. With his second win of the season, Knox joined Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy as the only multiple winners in 2015-16.
In his two PGA TOUR victories, Knox shared the lead going into the final round at last year’s HSBC Champions and was tied for second through 54 holes at the Travelers Championship in August.
A win for Knox on Sunday would be his third since last year’s HSBC Champions, joining Jason Day and Dustin Johnson as the only players to have won three times on the PGA TOUR in that timeframe.
Knox played well in his season debut at last week’s CIMB Classic where he entered the final round tied for second before a final-round 74 resulted in a T10 finish.
Knox would be the first player to defend his title at the HSBC Champions. Tiger Woods is the only player to defend a title at a World Golf Championships event, doing so seven times.
Tiger Woods title defenses in World Golf Championships events – Mexico Championship (2002-2003, 2006-2007), Dell Match Play (2003-2004), Bridgestone Invitational (1999-2000-2001, 2005-2006-2007).
Playing in his second HSBC Champions (finished T11 last year), the 2014-15 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Daniel Berger, shot a third round 67 and is four back of Hideki Matsuyama’s lead.
Berger won his first PGA TOUR event during the 2015-16 season, capturing the FedEx St. Jude Classic by three shots over Brooks Koepka. The former Florida State Seminole has qualified for the season-ending TOUR Champion in his first two seasons on TOUR, finishing 11th in the final FedExCup standings in 2014-15 and 26th last season.
In his lone PGA TOUR win, Berger entered the final round in sole possession of the lead. He held the lead through three rounds at last season’s Travelers Championship on his way to a T5 finish.
This is Berger’s second start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season; he finished T51 in last week’s CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Playing in the HSBC Champions for the sixth time in his career, Bill Haas is looking to top his previous best finish at the event (10th in 2012) after finishing the third round at 12-under par and is currently T4.
The six-time winner on the PGA TOUR finished last season without a victory on the PGA TOUR for just the second time in the last seven years. The 2011 FedExCup champion finished the season at No. 46 in the FedExCup standings.
His best finish in a World Golf Championships event (T6) happened twice at the Mexico Championship in 2010 and then again in 2014.
This is Haas’ second start of the young 2016-17 PGA TOUR season, recording a T20 at the season-starting Safeway Open.
Italian Francesco Molinari shot a third-round 68 and is T4, five shots behind the leader, Hideki Matsuyama. His best position through 54 holes in his PGA TOUR career is T3 at the 2015 Memorial Tournament, where he eventually finished T3.
Molinari is playing in the HSBC Champions for the sixth time, and he was a winner at the event in 2010, before it became an official part of the PGA TOUR schedule.
In 87 previous starts on the PGA TOUR, Molinari’s best finish is the T3 at the 2015 Memorial Tournament and another T3 at the 2011 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 PGA TOUR seasons, Molinari finished 111th in the final FedExCup standings, good enough to retain his PGA TOUR card each year. This is his first start of the 2016-17 season.
Molinari has three wins on the European Tour, winning the 2006 Telecom Italia Open and the 2012 Open de Espana along with his win at the 2010 HSBC Champions.
Irishman Shane Lowry fired a 7-under 65 to move into the top 10 on the leader board. He won the 2015 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, his first World Golf Championships title and first PGA TOUR victory.
Matt Kuchar made the third ace of his career, and first since 2007, at the par-3 17th hole with a 5-iron, the fourth recorded this season on the PGA TOUR. Due to the deteriorating condition of the back tee, the hole had to be reduced in length to below 200 yards. As this negated the insurance conditions applicable to the hole-in-one prize offering, the prize of a Cadillac CT6 40T Prem was not available in the third round and will not be available in the final round.
Australian Adam Scott, who shot an 8-over 80 in the second round, improved by 16 strokes in the third round, firing an 8-under 64, the lowest round of the day.
Past HSBC Champions in the field:
Player Year Score Standing
Sergio Garcia 2008 -7 T14
Francesco Molinari 2010 -12 T4
Martin Kaymer 2011 -2 32
Dustin Johnson 2013 +2 T43
Bubba Watson 2014 +4 T55
Russell Knox 2015 -14 2
Six players representing China are in the field:
Player Score Standing
Wu, Ashun -1 T33
Dou, Zecheng +3 T46
Li, Hao Tong +3 T46
Liang, WC +3 T46
Zhang, Huilin +10 T71
Zhang, Xinjun -9 T8
Quick review of tournament history:
- The HSBC Champions was created in November 2005 and became an official European Tour and Asian Tour event beginning in 2006. In 2009, the HSBC Champions was granted World Golf Championships status.
- Champions include
o 2005 – David Howell
o 2006 – Y.E. Yang
o 2007 – Phil Mickelson
o 2008 – Sergio Garcia
o 2009 – Phil Mickelson
o 2010 – Francesco Molinari
o 2011 – Martin Kaymer
o 2012 – Ian Poulter
o 2013 – Dustin Johnson
o 2014 – Bubba Watson
o 2015 – Russell Knox
Scoring averages at the par-72 Sheshan International Golf Club
Front 9 Back 9 Total
R1: 35.719 36.256 71.975
R2: 36.595 35.944 72.539
R3: 35.604 35.641 71.245
Cumulative: 35.973 35.948 71.921
Round 1: Rickie Fowler (65), Daniel Berger (66), Russell Knox (66), Hideki Matsuyama (66), Francesco Molinari (67), George Coetzee (69), Lee Westwood (69)
Round 2: Martin Kaymer (68)
Round 3: Adam Scott (64), Tyrrell Hatton (67), Hideki Matsuyama (68)