Tuesday 25 October 2016

Matsuyama delight after pipping Fowler

Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30

Hideki Matsuyama plays a shot on the 13th hole. Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports
Hideki Matsuyama plays a shot on the 13th hole. Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Hideki Matsuyama edged Rickie Fowler in a play-off at the Phoenix Open on Sunday to become only the second Japanese player with multiple wins on the PGA Tour.

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Matsuyama displayed supreme poise in the clutch, overcoming a late two-stroke deficit in regulation as he finished birdie-birdie to catch Fowler at the TPC Scottsdale.

He then edged the American at the fourth extra hole to claim his second PGA Tour victory.

Shane Lowry picked up a cheque of over $200,000 for his joint-sixth place finish.

“At the start of this week I wasn’t really playing that well. Winning wasn’t one of my thoughts. I’m just glad everything worked out fine,” said Matsuyama.

Shigeki Maruyama, with three wins, is the only Japanese player with more victories on the PGA Tour.

Matsuyama (23) is projected to rise to 12th in the world rankings.

A Matsuyama victory seemed most unlikely when Fowler stood over an eight-foot birdie chance at the par-three 16th stadium hole with a chance to go three shots ahead. But Fowler missed the putt, and then compounded his situation by powering a driver into the water beyond the 17th green en route to a bogey.

Matsuyama rolled in a 15-foot birdie dead centre at the par-four 18th, before Fowler matched him by sneaking a nine-footer in the right-hand door.

They both shot 67 to finish at 14-under-par.

Matsuyama and Fowler opened the sudden-death playoff by playing the 18th twice, matching each other first with par and then birdie, before continuing at the par-four 10th, which they both parred.

The play-off finally ended at the par-four 17th, where Fowler drove into the hazard and could not save par.

Irish Independent

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