8am Round-Up: ‘All to play for’ in WGC group battle insists Russell Knox

Russell Knox needs to beat Masters champion Danny Willett in his final group match to have a chance of progressing to the last 16 in Texas. Picture: Getty Images

Russell Knox needs to beat Masters champion Danny Willett in his final group match to have a chance of progressing to the last 16 in Texas. Picture: Getty Images

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Russell Knox insists it’s still “all to play for” despite losing to Korea’s K T Kim in the second round of matches in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.

The Scot now needs to beat Masters champion Danny Willett in his final group game today to keep alive his hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage at Austin Country Club.

He also requires Bill Haas to beat Kim in the other Group 11 game as that would leave Knox in a play-off with Haas and Kim to determine who progresses.

“It’s all to play for tomorrow and I just hope now that I can beat Danny and that Bill takes care of K T,” Knox, the No 17 seed, told golfbytourmiss.com.

“The one strong point today for me was that my driving was again really good, missing just two fairways, so that’s another good confidence boost.”

In a match between the two first-day victors, Knox fell behind at the second to Kim and quickly found himself four down as his opponent reeled off three hole-winning birdies in a row from the sixth.

Wins at the ninth and 11th raised hopes of a fightback before Knox eventually succumbed 3&2 to the 30-year-old.

“I knew I would be in for a tough match as K T’s a tough player, but when I found myself four down through eight I knew I was pretty much screwed,” said Knox.

“He just holed everything out there today and he was three under in very windy conditions before I won my first hole at nine.

“I had a chance after he conceded 16 if I hit the shot I wanted to on 17. But the wind destroyed it and then I left my putt outside of his, and that was the match.”

Scottish Open champion Alex Noren is already through to the last 16 along with another European hope, Soren Kjeldsen.

The Swede made it two wins out of two with a 3&2 victory over Austrian Bernd Wiesberger before learning that his scheduled opponent in the final match, Italian Francesco Molinari, had joined the list of withdrawals due to a wrist injury.

That left Noren in an unassailable position in his group, as is Kjeldsen after he also triumphed for the second day running then got a third point due to Gary Woodland having withdrawn over a “personal family matter”.

It means that world No 2 and 2015 winner Rory McIlroy, who lost to Kjeldsen in his first match before also being handed a point by Woodland, faces a “dead” rubber today against Grillo.

Other players who cannot advance include world No 4 Hideki Matsuyama, US Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Shane Lowry and, of course, Willett.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson is on course to progress after recording two wins out of two, as are

Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and rising European star Jon Rahm.

Second-day results

Bubba Watson (USA) bt Scott Piercy (USA) 4 & 3

Thomas Pieters (Bel) lost to Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 3 & 1

Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) lost to Ross Fisher 2 & 1

Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) lost to Jim Furyk (USA) 3 & 2

Patrick Reed (USA) lost to Kevin Kisner (USA) 1 down

Lee Westwood (Eng) bt Jason Day (Nzl) WD

Rory McIlroy (NIrl) bt Gary Woodland (USA) WD

Brooks Koepka (USA) bt Jason Dufner (USA) 6 & 5

Alex Noren (Swe) bt Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 3 & 2

Francesco Molinari (Ita) lost to Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 5 & 3

Matt Kuchar (USA) lost to Zach Johnson (USA) 2 down

Tommy Fleetwood lost to Brendan Steele (USA) 1 down

Dustin Johnson (USA) bt Martin Kaymer (Ger) 3 & 2

Jimmy Walker (USA) bt Webb Simpson (USA) 3 & 2

Daniel Willett lost to Bill Haas (USA) 6 & 5

Russell Knox lost to K.T. Kim (Kor) 3 & 1

Justin Thomas (USA) lost to Kevin Na (USA) 4 & 2

Matthew Fitzpatrick bt Chris Wood 4 & 2

Phil Mickelson (USA) bt Daniel Berger (USA) 5 & 4

J.B. Holmes (USA) Tied with Si Woo Kim (Kor)

Tyrrell Hatton bt Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 2 up

Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) lost to Charles Howell III (USA) 1 down

Sergio Garcia (Spa) bt Kevin Chappell (USA) 4 & 3

Jon Rahm (Spa) bt Shane Lowry 2 & 1

Branden Grace (Rsa) lost to William McGirt (USA) 2 & 1

Brandt Snedeker (USA) bt Andy Sullivan 2 & 1

Emiliano Grillo (Arg) lost to Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 4 & 3

Paul Casey bt Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 1 up

Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) bt Joost Luiten (Ned) 4 & 3

Jordan Spieth (USA) bt Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 4 & 2

Ryan Moore (USA) halved with Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)

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Craig Lee got off to a flying start with an opening eagle in today’s second round of the Barclays Kenya Open, the first event on this season’s Challenge Tour.

The Stirling man had already opened with an encouraging 67 in his first outing since last October and a 3 at the 10th at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi moved him to six-under.

Lee then added birdies at the 15th and 18th to reach the turn in 31, sitting one off the lead, held by Finn Kalle Samooja.

Two off the overnight lead after a first-round 66, Chris Doak was level-par for the day after six holes.

Bradley Neil was two-under for the same stretch, raising his hopes of making the cut after an opening 73.

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Scottish No 1 Catriona Matthew and Edinburgh-based American Beth Allen are sitting inside the top 20 after the opening round of the LPGA’s Kia Classic in California.

The pair shot matching two-under-par 70s in Carslbad to sit in joint-18th, four shots behind three co-leaders - American duo Cristie Kerr and Mo Martin, as well as Korea’s In Gee Chun.

Matthew made her score with a strong back nine, coming home in four-under 32 after starting at the 10th.

Playing in her home event - she hails from San Diego - Allen covered that same stretch in three-under.

World No 1 Lydia Ko and second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn are both sitting below the projected cut line after signing for two-over 74s.

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Gemma Dryburgh is flying the Saltire in the Symetra Tour’s 10A Championship, which gets underway at Beaumont in California today.

England’s Bronte Law is also in the field for the event on the LPGA’s feeder circuit.

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