Mag­is­te­rial Mat­suyama Wins WGC Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional

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.

Hideki Mat­suyama

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