World number two from Japan marched to the title with an eagle and seven birdies
Hideki Matsuyama fired a course record-equalling nine-under par 61 to win the Bridgestone Invitational by five strokes for a second World Golf Championships win. His 16-under total of 264 put him five in front of two-time major winner Zach Johnson, who closed with a 68 for 269.
Matsuyama, the first player from Asia to win one of golf's elite WGC titles, added the Bridgestone trophy to the HSBC Champions crown he claimed in October. The dominant performance came in the final tune-up event for golf's best before the last major of the season, the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.
Matsuyama said he was feeling the nerves throughout the round, after a warmup on the driving range that was less than encouraging. It didn't show as he kickstarted his round with an eagle at Firestone Country Club's par-five second, where he chipped in from just off the green.
He capped his round with birdies at 16, 17 and 18 to join Jose Maria Olazabal, Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia as the only players to shoot 61 on Firestone's South Course. "In fact, I played with Tiger four years ago when he shot 61, so I knew 61 was the number today," Matsuyama said, "I was thinking about that at 16, I knew if I birdied 16, 17 and 18 I could get there."
He did, and will go into the PGA Championship a hot favourite to become the first Japanese man to win a major championship, although he noted that he's never been particularly successful in the PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow. "All I can do is my best," Matsuyama said. That was certainly good enough on Sunday where his eagle and three birdies saw him leading when he made the turn. American Charley Hoffman applied some pressure with five birdies his first 11 holes, but couldn't maintain his consistency in a 66 that saw him settle for third place on 270.
Johnson, who shared the overnight lead with Belgian Thomas Pieters, had three birdies and a bogey in his twounder effort but parred his way through the last seven holes as Matsuyama consolidated his lead.
Johnson, seeking his first win since the 2015 British Open, was encouraged by his game but said of Matsuyama: "Clearly, we all ran into a buzz saw today."
Pieters's one-over 71 was good enough for fourth place on 272.
Northern Ireland star Rory Mcilroy carded a 60 to head a group on 273 that also included Scotland's Russel Knox (68), England's Paul Casey (67) and Canadian Adam Hadwin (69). British Open champion Jordan Spieth, who will be pursuing a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship, closed with a 68 that left him in a group sharing 13th on 276.
THE ASIAN TOUR BECOMES AN AFFILIATE OF THE R&A
The Asian Tour has become an affiliate of The R&A enabling both bodies to work closer together to support the development of golf in Asia. The R&A will provide support over three years towards the Asian Tour’s developmental tour and will engage with the tour on Rules education and development projects. The tour will now also be represented at The R&A’S quadrennial International Golf Conference in St Andrews. Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are delighted that the Asian Tour has become affiliated to The R&A and look forward to supporting its efforts to assist more elite amateur players to make the step-up to the professional ranks.” Josh Burack, Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Tour, added, “Working with The R&A will help us to secure some playing slots for top amateur players in Asia to compete against our professionals on the Asian Development Tour (ADT). We will also receive support from them in enhancing the expertise of our Rules officials and we are proud of this partnership as we further promote and strengthen golf in Asia.” The Asian Tour will join The R&A’S global network of more than 150 affiliates to promote and develop golf in accordance with the official Rules of Golf and the Rules of Amateur Status. The Asian Tour is the first tour outside Europe to become an R&A affiliated body. It joins the European Tour and Ladies European Tour which are existing R&A affiliates.
MALAYSIA TO HOST WORLD AMATEUR GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Malaysia will play host to over 800 amateur golfers from 47 countries in the World Amateur Golf Championship (WAGC) to be held later this year on 18th to 25th November. Founded in 1995 by prominent Swedish sports icon Sven Tumba, Malaysia last played host to the WAGC back in 2007 where the country won 2nd runners up for the championship. Speaking to reporters in a press conference announcing the prestigious event, Perodua Chairman Ybhg Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin said that Perodua’s decision to sponsor the event was in-line with its belief in the sport of golf to provide avenues of self-improvement. Perodua has been a proud title sponsor for the WAGC since 2012 for the local chapter and participation of the Malaysian team abroad with over 6,000 amateur players experiencing the world standard tournament in qualifying rounds and 75 players sponsored to participate internationally.
The decision to host the 2017 World Amateur Golfers Championship World Final has received the support of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Delta Trend Golf & Leisure Holidays (DTGLH) Sdn Bhd has been given the rights to host the championship from World Golf Championships Ltd, which is the governing body for this event via an agreement to host the tournament from 2012 until 2020. The four courses that have been chosen for the tournament are Sungai Long Golf and Country Club, The Mines Resort and Golf Club, Templer Park Country Club and Kota Permai Lang Golf & Country Club.
HKGTA LAUNCHES GOLDEN BEAR GOLF PASSPORT BY JACK NICKLAUS ACADEMY OF GOLF
Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy’s (HKGTA) new programme provides access to the worldclass Nicklaus Academy instruction as well as its state-of-the-art practice facilities. HKGTA is home to the Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf in Hong Kong, where Certified Nicklaus Academy instructors provide a personalised approach to golf instruction across different skill levels, addressing all aspects of the game from the rules and etiquette to mental preparation and the development of motor skills. The state-of-the-art facilities at HKGTA feature three exclusive Jack Nicklaus Coaching Studios, powered by video analysis software and other technologies that enable coaches and students to review performance in great detail. Pressure/balance plates, professional putt training equipment and more, provide extensive opportunities to perfect techniques and are the most sophisticated of their kind in Hong Kong. There are three levels for Passport holders, each with varied number of hours for instruction and practice times to fit individual needs. The Golden Bear Golf Passport is available starting from HK$26,999 for a sixmonth period access to the Nicklaus Academy facility from Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 10pm. The range and practice areas are lit for night play, so students can enjoy the game even after work. Applicants need not be existing patrons of HKGTA and each passport holder can bring a maximum of three guests to enjoy practice hours together. A six-hole short game is available at certain time slots, subject to availability at additional supplement per person. For additional information on the Golden Bear Golf Passport or the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy, please visit www.hkgta.com or get in touch at 852.3110.8823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELITE WOMEN’S AMATEUR GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP LAUNCHED IN ASIA-PACIFIC
The R&A and Asia-pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) have announced that the first ever Women’s Amateur Asia-pacific golf championship will be played at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore from 21st to 24th February 2018. The inaugural event will take place at the New Tanjong course and will provide the most talented women amateur golfers in the region with the opportunity to earn an invitation to play in two major championships: the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration. The winner of the Women’s Amateur Asia-pacific will be invited by HSBC to play in the 11th HSBC Women’s Championship, the region’s leading women’s golf tournament, on the same course at Sentosa next year. It was also announced that the Royal Golf Club in Japan will be the venue for the championship in 2019 and 2020.
The format for the championship will be 72 holes of stroke play and players will be invited to participate from member countries of the APGC based on the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING (WAGR). A total of 86 players will make up the field and it is expected that around 20 countries will be represented. A maximum number of six players from any country other than the host will be able to enter, the host country will receive an additional four invitations. Kabaya Ohayo Group and Rolex will be the championship’s principal sponsors, while IMG have been engaged to assist with tournament staging and TV broadcasting, which will include live coverage and highlights packages.
From left Nick Shan, The R&A; Duncan Weir, The R&A; Dominic Wall, The R&A; Josh Burack, Asian Tour CEO; Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A; Jimmy Masrin, Asian Tour Chairman, Charles Harrison, The R&A; Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour COO.