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Hideki Matsuyama uses remarkable late surge to overtake Patrick Cantlay, win Genesis Invitational

February 19th, 2024

LOS ANGELES — Hideki Matsuyama came out of nowhere Sunday.

While the final group struggled for most of the day, and Patrick Cantlay’s two-shot lead quickly disappeared, Matsuyama was locked in.

Matsuyama posted a 9-under 62 in what was a spectacular final round to overtake a crowded leaderboard and win the Genesis Invitational. It marked the Japanese star’s first win on the PGA Tour in more than two years, and won him a tournament record $4 million check.

Matsuyama’s win was the ninth of his career, which surpassed KJ Choi’s mark and made him the winningest Asian player in tour history.

“After my eighth win, I’ve been struggling with my back injury,” Matsuyama said through a translator. “There was a lot of times where I felt I was never going to win again. I’ve struggled reaching to top-10, but I’m really happy that I was able to win today.”

Hideki Matsuyama pulled out two ridiculous shots and nearly matched the course record at Riviera Country Club on Sunday afternoon.

Hideki Matsuyama’s wild surge on Sunday

For a long time at Riviera, it seemed as if Cantlay was going to run away with a wire-to-wire win. The Southern California native flew ahead to a five-shot lead after Friday, and he took a two-shot lead into the final round. Cantlay, however, got off to a very slow start Sunday. Not only did he and Xander Schauffele quickly fall a full hole behind the group in front of them, but Cantlay made things very difficult on himself. He finished his front nine at even par and then made several quick bogeys early on his back nine, which allowed the rest of the field to jump ahead.

Matsuyama was more than ready to take advantage. The 31-year-old, who started the day six shots back, made three straight birdies to open his round. He then made three straight birdies after making the turn, too, which suddenly put him right in the mix.

But it wasn’t until the par-4 15th that Matsuyama whipped out what was easily the shot of the day. Matsuyama somehow stuck his approach shot just 8 inches from the cup from 189 yards out. That left him with a tap-in birdie, something rarely seen on what is the second-hardest hole of the course.

That wasn’t an outlier, either. Matsuyama then landed his tee shot at the par-3 16th just six inches from the cup to record a second consecutive tap-in birdie. That gave him a one-shot lead.

He made a third straight birdie at the par-5 17th, too, after chipping his third shot within just three feet of the hole. That was his ninth birdie of the day, and pushed his lead to three shots after Will Zalatoris bogeyed behind him.

Matsuyama then two-putted at the 18th for one final par to close out his 62. While that was one shot shy of tying the Riviera course record, and he had to wait it out a bit in the clubhouse, it was more than enough to give Matsuyama the win. It also marked the lowest final-round score in any tour event at Riviera in history.

When he got to the course, he said he didn’t think there was a chance he could even win. Based on how he was playing earlier in the week and the six-shot hole he was in, Matsuyama figured he was out of it.

“I was not feeling comfortable with my ball-striking, so I was kind of thinking, ‘Hey, I’m going to have a couple missed shots today,’” he said. “But maybe that kind of worked out.”

Zalatoris and Luke List finished in second at 14-under on the week, three shots back from Matsuyama. Cantlay, thanks to a wild birdie putt at the last, joined Schauffele and Adam Hadwin in a tie for fourth at 13-under.

“It’s kind of nice when you get beat by somebody who shoots 62 on Sunday,” Zalatoris said. “Sixty-two on Sunday is usually going to win a golf tournament or make you a ton of money.

“Hats off to Hideki, that is just stellar playing.”

Matsuyama has now won nine times in his career on tour. The 2021 Masters champion hasn’t won since the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2022, and he had a rather quiet season on tour last year. He had just two top-10 finishes, and was dealing with a back and neck injury near the end of the season. He entered this week at No. 55 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Tiger Woods, who hosts the tournament each year, withdrew from the event in the middle of his second round Friday. Woods hit his tee shot on the seventh hole, and then hopped in a cart and went back to the locker room. He was battling flu-like symptoms, his team said, and was struggling throughout the day to the point where he had to call it. Woods was competing in his first tournament back on tour since he pulled out of the Masters last April. He’s had to withdraw from three of his last five true starts.

The Genesis Invitational marks the last stop on the PGA Tour’s swing on the west coast. It’ll head to Mexico next week before jumping to Florida for the lead up to the Players Championship and eventually the Masters in April.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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