One goal for Haas over the weekend was to try to make Matsuyama sweat a little, a tall task given how well he is putting and more cold weather in the forecast. Haas did his part to keep up by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies and dropping only one shot.
Knox ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front nine, and then hung on when the weather was at its worst.
“It turned nasty with four or five holes to go,” Knox said. “I had a lot of shots from 200 yards, which fortunately is a strength of mine because I don’t hit it very far. It was a battle out there. I’m happy to be done.”
It remains a battle for U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who braved the conditions in a short-sleeved shirt, and then a short-sleeved rain jacket. He went bogey-birdie-double bogey around the turn, tried to turn it around with an eagle on the par-5 14th, and then followed that by going bogey-birdie-bogey, the last one a three-putt. He had another 74 and was at 4-over 148, leaving him 17 shots behind.
He played with Patrick Reed, also in short sleeves, and toward the bottom of the pack.
McIlroy thought a round of 66 would get him back in the mix, and it at least got him going in the right direction. As well as he played, he was surprised to see Matsuyama do one shot better in the cold wind.
Still, he was where he wanted to be going into the weekend. McIlroy made up more ground in fewer holes, so he wasn’t worried with two rounds remaining. The only concern was whether Matsuyama could keep this up.
Matsuyama won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February, and then finally got back on track by winning the Japan Open two weeks ago and finishing runner-up to Justin Thomas last week at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
“He’s playing very well and he’ll be tough to catch,” McIlroy said. “But I feel like from what I saw out there today, if I can keep that sort of golf going over the next two days, I should have a chance.”