Matsuyama takes 3-shot lead in WGC-HSBC with 65

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan shot 7-under-par 65 to build a three-stroke lead over defending champion Russell Knox of Scotland and Bill Haas midway through the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

The 24-year-old Matsuyama, No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has recorded 19 birdies while posting a score of 13-under 131 through 36 holes.

“I have been playing well but really today, I hit some good second shots and made some putts and that’s what made the round score well for me,” said Matsuyama, who has won twice on the PGA Tour, including a playoff victory over Rickie Fowler in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

“I haven’t really played well here before. So before coming here, I was a little bit nervous again, thinking, well, maybe it’s not going to be a good week for me. But then I decided, ‘Oh, wait a minute, let’s just have fun this week.’ It’s made a difference.”

Haas collected three birdies on each nine in a 67, while Knox recorded four birdies on the front nine in a 68, both making only a single bogey.

Richard Bland of England birdied five of the last eight holes on the front nine in a second straight 68 and was five shots back in a tie for fourth with Francesco Molinari of Italy, who birdied the last three holes in a 69, and Daniel Berger, who had a 70.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland bounced back from an opening 71 with a 66 that included seven birdies and was six behind in a tie for seventh with Paul Casey of England, who shot 70, Ross Fisher of England, who finished at 68, and Xinjun Zhang of China, who came in at 69.

Fowler was tied for 11th after a 73, Sergio Garcia shot 72 to tie for 18th, Dustin Johnson had a second straight 74 to tie for 55th and Adam Scott of Australia struggled to an 80 and was tied for 61st.

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