Mat­suyama wins Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional, Kim tops Women’s Bri­tish Open

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DOUG FER­GU­SON

Hideki Mat­suyama is never sure when his best golf is go­ing to show up.

When it does, he can pile up vic­to­ries with the best of them.

One of the big­ger sur­prises came at just the right time for Mat­suyama. While he was only two shots out of the lead go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional, he lost his swing on his way to the prac­tice range.

“Prob­a­bly the worst warmup at a tour­na­ment that I’ve won,” he said.

More than just the win was the man­ner in which the 25-year-old from Ja­pan cap­tured his sec­ond World Golf Cham­pi­onship.

He chipped in from 60 feet for ea­gle on the sec­ond hole to get in the game. He took the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole, and he kept right on go­ing. Al­ready in con­trol, he re­mem­bered the course record at Fire­stone was 61 be­cause he was play­ing with Tiger Woods in 2013 when Woods did it. Mat­suyama closed with three straight birdies for a 9-un­der 61 to win by five shots.

He went from won­der­ing where the ball was go­ing to know­ing where to find it — at the bot­tom of the cup.

“When you’re mak­ing birdies,” he said, “get re­laxed real quick.”

And now the pres­sure re­turns.

Mat­suyama heads to Quail Hol­low Club in North Carolina for the PGA Cham­pi­onship, the fi­nal ma­jor of the year and his last chance to cap off a year in which the Ja­panese star moved into the elite in golf.

Ja­pan is clam­our­ing for its first ma­jor cham­pion, and he knows it.

“All I can do is my best,” Mat­suyama said. “I know a lot of us have tried from Ja­pan to win ma­jors. Hope­fully, some day it will hap­pen.” The tim­ing has never been for him. When he was 21 and still fin­ish­ing up his col­lege de­gree in Ja­pan, Mat­suyama had a five-week stretch in which he won twice and was run­ner-up twice on the Ja­pan Golf Tour in 2013, the year he be­came the first rookie to win the Order of Merit.

What re­ally turned heads was last fall. Start­ing with a pres­sure-filled vic­tory be­fore the home crowd in the Ja­pan Open, Mat­suyama had a six-tour­na­ment stretch in which he won four times and was run­nerup in the other two events. Among those vic­to­ries was the HSBC Cham­pi­ons in Shang­hai, which he won by seven shots for his first World Golf Cham­pi­onship.

Along with cap­tur­ing an­other World Golf Cham­pi­onship ti­tle, Mat­suyama won for the third time, join­ing Spi­eth and Dustin John­son for the most on the 2017 PGA Tour.

TONY DE­JAK, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Hideki Mat­suyama of Ja­pan pumps his fist af­ter his birdie putt on the 18th hole in the fi­nal round of the Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional golf tour­na­ment Sun­day.

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