Russell Knox won the second of the Final Series events in China - the HSBC Champions - finishing two shots clear of Kevin Kisner.
Trying to predict who would win the WGC-HSBC Champions was something of a complicated matter.
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson were all in the field and each of them, bar Stenson, has a win to their name in 2015. However, Stenson posted four top 2s this season to take the unenviable tag of bridesmaid away from Fowler.
It was, then, somewhat of a surprise when Scotland’s Russell Knox finished two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard in China. Knox, who spends the majority of his time on the PGA Tour, beat Kevin Kisner to the title, with Dustin Johnson four shots back in a tie for fifth.
Listen to the weekly Golf Monthly Podcast in which the team discuss Russell Knox’s great win, the race for the moneylist and look ahead to this week in Shanghai…
Let’s take a look at five of the key talking points from last week’s event, including Knox’s triumph…
No. 1 – Still not quite happening for McIlroy
Do we expect too much from the Northern Irishman? Possibly, but the Race to Dubai leader is finding it difficult to post his first W since returning from injury earlier this year. He finished T6 at the Turkish Airlines Open and T11 last weekend, six shots back from Russell Knox. McIlroy still leads the Race to Dubai rankings, but Danny Willett is closing in. Given things haven’t quite fallen for the former world no. 1 since returning to action, a third Race to Dubai title in four years would be a real feat.
No. 2 – Good week for the English
Ross Fisher, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick all finished in the top 7 in Shanghai. Fitzpatrick’s win at the British Masters seems to have really kick-started his career. Since winning at Woburn he has recorded a T3 finish at the Hong Kong Open, T26 at the Turkish Airlines Open and last weekend’s T7 with Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Haotong Li. Willett is pushing for the Race to Dubai title and Fisher gained his fifth top 10 of the season at Sheshan International GC. Things are running smoothly…
No. 3 – No joy for Scott
From second at the CIMB Classic to 70th in China, Adam Scott must be scratching his head. Golf can, of course, humble the best and we’ve seen it so many times before. However, the 2013 Masters winner had an inconsistent 2015 season and doesn’t seem to be able to shake it off. The Australian will likely suffer from the anchored putter ban, which will almost certainly guarantee even more mixed results.
No. 4 – All hail Haotong Li
If you’d have looked at Haotong Li’s last result on the European Tour heading into the Final Series (T127), you’d have said a finish in the top half would have been a job well done. A T26 finish at the Turkish Airlines Open must have surpassed even his expectations. He wasn’t satisfied with that, though, and recorded a terrific T7 at the weekend. He was in good company too, with Fitzpatrick, Reed and Spieth all finishing with an overall 273.
No. 5 – Russell Knox comes out a winner
Consider that Knox missed the cut just last month at the Frys.com Open and you have an idea of just what an achievement his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions was. Unspectacular results at the Shriners Hospitals for Chidren Open and the CIMB Classic – T38 and T21 respectively – didn’t exactly make the Scot a favourite heading into the Final Series’ second event.
However, he pulled it out of the bag to win by two from Kevin Kisner. His second round 65 was needed given Kisner opened with a 64. Great Scot, indeed.