Defending champ Knox fades after 'horrendous' close


Russell Knox had a chance to successfully defend his first career PGA Tour title before a "horrendous" final round left him well off the pace at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Knox was three shots behind Hideki Matsuyama after 54 holes and played alongside the eventual winner during the final round. While Matsuyama got off to a strong start with three birdies over his first seven holes, Knox stumbled to four straight bogeys on Nos. 8-11 to essentially shoot his way out of the tournament. He carded a 2-over 74 in the final round at Sheshan International and finished in a tie for ninth alongside Sergio Garcia, 11 shots behind Matsuyama.

"I mean, today was a bummer," Knox told reporters. "Made a mistake and a bad swing, and before you know it, I made four bogeys in a row and I just completely had lost it. It was tough to pull myself back. It was a shame, I battled hard, but it just wasn't meant to be."

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Knox also played in the final group during the CIMB Classic last week, but also closed with a 74 to tie for 10th as Justin Thomas cruised to victory. The results give Knox a promising start to the new season, but the Scot still wishes he could have done more given his 54-hole position each time.

"That was one of my goals this year was to have more top-10s, so two out of two so far, so that's always nice," he said. "I came to Malaysia and China here, I was in the last group on Sunday in both tournaments, so I'm proud of myself for that. Just a little disappointed. I played horrendous on Sunday both times."