Sun, Oct 30, 2016 - Page 11 News List

Matsuyama keeps three-shot lead at HSBC Champions


Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama yesterday reacts on the 18th green at the end of the third round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai, China.

Photo: AFP

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama yesterday kept a clean card and made just enough birdies for a four-under 68 to maintain his three-shot lead in the HSBC Champions.

Matsuyama had made 19 birdies over the opening two rounds. He was even more satisfied with the third round because he played bogey-free for the first time all week at the Sheshan International and did not give anyone much of a chance to close the gap.

Matsuyama made three of his birdies on the par-fives, including the final hole when he belted a three-wood from 248 yards over the corner of the lake and onto the green, and he nearly holed the 25-foot eagle attempt.

“That was a big birdie, to take the lead from two shots to three,” he said.

Matsuyama was at 17-under 199 as he goes for his first World Golf Championship (WGC) title.

Defending champion Russell Knox made a pair of birdies on the back nine and to keep in range, though he never could get closer than two shots of Matsuyama. Knox also shot a 68 and will be in the final group for the second straight year at the HSBC Champions.

Joining them will be Daniel Berger, who has used his short game to stay in contention. That was never more evident than the 18th hole, when he pushed his fairway metal into the middle of the lake and still managed to get up-and-down from the fairway to save par. Berger shot a 67 and was four shots behind.

Francesco Molinari, who won this WGC in 2010, had a 68 and joined Bill Haas (70) at 12-under 204.

Rory McIlroy tried to make a run and pulled off what he called one of the best short-game shots of his career for an unlikely birdie on the par-five eighth. After sailing his three-wood well right of the fairway on a thin patch of muddy grass, McIlroy faced a 50-yard shot over a creek with the pin on that side of the green. He hit a hard, low shot into the bank and it popped onto the green about 15 feet away, and he made the putt.

That got him within four of the lead, but the four-time major champion began dropping too many shots to keep the momentum. McIlroy needed two late birdies to salvage a 37 on the back nine, and his 70 left him eight shots behind.

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