Friday, October 28th, 2016
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Ross Fisher making another impact at WGC-HSBC 10-28-2016
Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher set himself up for another weekend title bid at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China after coming on strong late and hoisting up a 4-under-par 36-32=68 in Friday's second round. At 7-under 137, the Englishman will go into the final 36 holes at Sheshan International GC in T7, that's six behind three-shot leader Hideki Matsuyama. That gap looked like being much bigger when Fisher started out with bogeys at 10 and 12 today. He got back on track with a rush of birdies at 13, 14 and 16 but another dropped shot at 17 meant he hadn't improved his overnight position of 3-under. He changed all that with an impressive second nine, sinking birdie efforts at 2, 3, 7 and 8 to climb back inside the top 10. Fisher was a popular pick with gamers this week having twice finished in the top three in this event. He's also finished runner-up in two of his last three European Tour starts. The five-time ET winner hasn't had his very best stuff from tee to green so far (T38 Driving Accuracy, T24 Greens In Regulation) but he's 8th in Putts Per GIR. He carded 65-68 on the weekend when third here last year.
Berger adds 70; maintains title push at WGC 10-28-2016
Daniel Berger
Daniel Berger held his position in the top five at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China after touring Sheshan International GC in 2-under-par 35-35=70 in Friday's second round. The American struggled to find birdies today but will go into the weekend in T4 at 8-under 136. That's five behind leader Hideki Matsuyama of Japan. Berger was quiet on the front nine, shooting eight pars and a lone bogey at 8. He posted another red number at 11 although gave that gain back with a bogey at 15, his first and only dropped shot this week. He responded with a bounceback circle at 16. After posting T11 here on debut last year the Florida man is again enjoying his week in China. His accuracy off the tee could be a concern though after he piped just 4 (of 14) fairways today. After two rounds he's T69 in Driving Accuracy and T30 in GIR after hitting 13 and 11 respectively so far.
Xinjun Zhang stays in mix at HSBC Champions 10-28-2016
Xin-Jun Zhang
Xinjun Zhang maintained the home challenge in the World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions after a second round 3-under-par 34-35=69 gave him a halfway total of 7-under 137 good enough for T7 and six off the lead. Zhang struggled from the tee Friday, finding only 7 (of 14) fairways, but as Thursday he still landed 13 greens in regulation. Opening on the back nine he ticked for birdies at 14, 16 and 18 whilst squaring the 15th. Two more birdies at 2 and 5 raised him to T4, but it was brief: he made double bogey-7 at the 603-yard par-5 8th. A closing par breaker at No. 9 meant dinner will taste less bitter. Back in 2011 Zhang finished strongly to post T13 in this event, whereas last year he opened with a 67 for T9 before drifting back to T46.
Knox impresses again at Shanghai; T2 after 36 10-28-2016
Russell Knox
Russell Knox's love affair with Sheshan International GC continued as the defending champion tacked on a second-round 4-under-par 33-35=68 to his opening 66 to post 10-under 134 at the halfway point of the WGC-HSBC Champions, good enough for T2 on the leaderboard. The Scotsman is now 30-under for his last six laps of the par 72 and today's five-birdie, one-bogey round put him just three behind 36-hole leader Hideki Matsuyama. Knox is doing everything right so far and has hit 29 Greens In Regulation (14 today) to sit T2 in that category. He's also T6 for Driving Accuracy after piping 10 (of 14) in round two and 10th in Putts Per GIR. His front-nine birdies today came at 2, 5, 7 and 8, the second in that list following a superb hybrid from 191 yards to just four feet. On a quieter second nine he stroked in a 6 footer at 12 to reach double digits under par and stayed there with pars all the way to the clubhouse. His only bogey today and, indeed, of the week came at No. 3. Knox isn't giving this thing up lightly.
Casey hangs on in Shanghai; T7 after R2 70 10-28-2016
Paul Casey
Paul Casey overcame a sloppy beginning to card 2-under-par 35-35=70 in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC. Statistically the Arizona State grad was only marginally down on his first round effort: he found 10 of 14 fairways rather than 11, 14 greens in regulation instead of 15, and his Putts per GIR number was up to 1.714 from 1.667, but in the numbers that really matter it translated to a 70 instead of a 67. But his 36-hole total of 7-under 137 is still good enough for T7, six off the lead. He had opened with bogeys at 1 and 3, but responded with red numbers at 2, 5 and 8, dropping a putt from 18'0" on the fifth. On his journey back to the clubhouse he made bogey at 15, with birdies at 14 and 18.
Matsuyama three clear in WGC-HSBC Champions 10-28-2016
Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama blitzed Sheshan International GC to shoot a second round 7-under-par 34-31=65 which earned him a three shot halfway lead on 13-under 131 in the WGC-HSBC Champions. The Japanese star put on a clinic of iron play and putting to separate himself from the stellar field and make light of his previous woes in World Golf Championship tournaments (this is his 14th start and he is yet to log a strokeplay top ten finish). When he opened with a bogey at No. 1 there was no clue of what was to come, but that didn't last long. He responded with red at 2 and 3, before pouring in birdies from 13'0" at 7 and 7'0" at 8. A bogey knocked him off his stride at 9, but not for long because he opened the back nine with a hat-trick of ticked holes at 10, 11 and 12, the latter thanks to a 12'0" putt. Another birdie came at 14 and a superb approach shot left him just 5'0" for a final par breaker at 18; he took it. Incredibly he found just 5 fairways in the round, but landed 16 of 18 greens in regulation and his Putts per GIR number of 1.321 is bettered by no-one in the field. He holds that 3 shot lead over Bill Haas and defending champion Russell Knox.
McIlroy makes move in China after Friday 66 10-28-2016
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy surged into the top 10 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China after painting a 6-under-par 33-33=66 in Friday's second round. That's six behind leader Hideki Matsuyama, whose 65 was the only round to eclipse McIlroy's, and good enough for T7 on the leaderboard, up 17 spots. The Northern Irishman arrived at 7-under 137 after posting seven birdies against a lone bogey today. He picked off par breakers at 2, 5 and 7 on his front nine and converted from 15 feet at 11 and 11 feet at 13 to register two more. His only blemish came via a bogey at 16 after he found trees off the tee but he surrounded that with birdies on the par 5s at 14 and 18. McIlroy is T3 in greens in regulation so far this week after again finding 14 today so the difference was the putter. He needed just 26 swishes on Friday. This was the low one he needed to get back in touch with the leaders so expect the four-time major winner to launch a big weekend challenge.
Haas adds second 67; T2 after 36 at WGC-HSBC 10-28-2016
Bill Haas
Bill Haas nudged two spots up the leaderboard to T2 after compiling a 5-under-par 33-34=67 in round two of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China to post 10-under 134 at the midpoint. Looks like he's got the hang of Sheshan International GC now. Haas broke 70 for the first time there on Thursday when handing in a 67 and he repeated the trick today. He made his mark early with circles at 2, 3 and 5 and before slotting four straight pars. The American made another move with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 before dropping his only shot of the day at 13. He got it back at 16 and two pars left him three behind halfway leader Hideki Matsuyama. The six-time PGA TOUR winner upped his fairways hit count by four to 10 (of 14) today. He again hit 14 greens in regulation and is ranked T3 in that category so far.
F.Molinari scrambles his way round Sheshan 10-28-2016
Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari scrapped his way to a 3-under-par 34-35=69 to post a 36-hole total of 8-under 136 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. The 2010 winner of this event conducted a demonstration of long game skils at Sheshan International GC in round one, but had to call on others talents in round two. Having hit 13 of 14 fairways Thursday he was down to 9 on Friday; the Greens in Regulations stats took a hit too: dropping from 15 of 18 to just 9. But whilst the bogey numbers rose, he smoothed plenty of putts when he got the chance to eye up birdie and saw his Putts per GIR number drop from 1.667 to 1.222. He opened by squaring 1 and 4, but atoned by circling 2 and then hit his straps with more birdies at 5, 8 and 9 (from 30'0"). The back nine started like the front (bogeys at 10 and 13) but without the red numbers. Molinari had left them till last: a rush of three at 16, 17 (from 28'0") and 18 which drew him up to T4 on the live leaderboard, 5 back of the lead.
Bland transferring Europe form to WGC stage 10-28-2016
Richard Bland
Richard Bland stuttered on his way home, but carded a four-under-par 31-37=68 to hit the halfway mark of the WGC-HSBC Champions on 8-under 136, T4 on the live leaderboard. The 43-year-old winless Englishman is having the season of his career on the European Tour - he hasn't finished outside the top 30 in nine starts stretching back to the Scottish Open in July. He is untested in the World Golf Championship but at Sheshan International GC he is showing signs of being unfazed, and playing much as he did when T3 on his last Chinese start, the China Open in April. As Thursday he shot 68 Friday, but did so hitting fewer fairways (8 of 14 against 11) and fewer greens (13 against 14). His 36-hole Putts per GIR number of 1.556 is currently T3 in the field. He started from the tenth and posted five birdies at 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18. The back nine featured only one, at 7, with bogeys bookending the return home at 1 and 9. He trails the lead by 5.