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Golf: Hideki Matsuyama wins Memorial in a playoff

Published June 2, 2014 5:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dublin, Ohio • With every swing, Hideki Matsuyama appeared to join a cast of top players throwing away a chance to win the Memorial.

A tee shot in the water on the 16th for double bogey. An approach over the back of the green on the 17th that led to bogey. And then a drive to the right that made the Japanese star so disgusted that he lightly slammed his club into the turf, and the head of the driver broke off.

The ball hit a tree and took one last bounce back into the fairway, and Matsuyama seized on the break. He took dead aim with a 7-iron to just outside 5 feet for birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Kevin Na, and then won for the first time in America with a 10-foot par putt on the first extra hole.

"Right from the 15th hole, I had a lot of missed shots," Matsuyama said. "The double bogey at 16, bogey at 17, not a real good tee shot — I thought — at 18. But when I saw the ball on the fairway on the 18th hole there, that's when I was able to think I still have a chance."

The 22-year-old Matsuyama earned validation as one of the game's bright young stars Sunday by closing with a 3-under 69 and making two clutch putts on the 18th hole for his sixth career victory, the previous five on the Japan Golf Tour. This was his first win against a field of the world's top players.

"I just think you've just seen the start of what's going to be truly one of your world's great players over the next 10 to 15 years," tournament host Jack Nicklaus said.

Nicklaus spent much of the back nine in the broadcast booth, and it was a brand of golf that was unfamiliar to golf's greatest champion. The Memorial became only the latest event where proven players faltered badly.

Masters champion Bubba Watson had a one-shot lead with five holes to play. He was 3 over the rest of the way. Adam Scott, the No. 1 player in the world, was tied for the lead until playing the last seven holes in 4 over.

"The whole thing is frustrating as I stand here right now," Scott said after his 71. "But everyone is going to feel like that. We all could have done something different. If we all did, who knows what the result would be?"

Scott fell apart by hitting one shot into the water, taking two shots to get out of a bunker and losing all hope when his third shot to the par-5 15th hit the pin and caromed back into the fairway, leading to a bogey.

Watson dropped three shots by hooking two tee shots. The most damaging was his drive on the 15th that was so high, so powerful and so far right that it cleared the trees and went into a neighborhood, leading a double bogey.

Needing a birdie on the 18th, his shot looked good until it took one small hop and stayed in the rough. A few inches closer and it would have fed down the slope for a short birdie chance. He closed with a 72 and finished third, moving him to No. 3 in the world ahead of the injured Tiger Woods.

"It's tough," Watson said, who was going for his third win of the year. "I made one bad decision. If I hit 4-wood off the tee instead of driver on the par 5, we make 5 and we win by one. But I made double, so we lost by one."

Na finished his round of 64 about two hours earlier. He was in the clubhouse at Muirfield Village, leaning against two pillows on a sofa as he watched the calamity unfold, even joking he might win by not hitting another shot. Thanks to Matsuyama, he had to. And it wasn't pretty.

Na hooked his tee shot on the 18th in the playoff, and it went into the creek. He still had 10 feet for bogey when Matsuyama made the winning putt. Na did not speak to reporters. A PGA Tour official tracked him down in the parking lot, and he gave credit to Matsuyama for making a great putt.

Adding to the bizarre ending was how Matsuyama played the extra hole.

It was not an angry slam of the driver after his tee shot on the 18th in regulation, and he was shocked to see the head fall off. He could have replaced the club because the playoff is not considered part of the round, but he had no replacement. Instead, he went with 3-wood off the tee in the playoff, and it went into the front bunker.

He hooked his 5-iron, hitting a spectator in the knee left of the green, and hit a flop shot safely to 10 feet.

It was the first par he made on the 18th hole all week. Matsuyama became the first player to make birdie on the closing hole at Muirfield Village four straight rounds.

"To win my first PGA Tour event is enough," Matsuyama said. "But to win it here at Mr. Nicklaus' course, it really gives me a lot of confidence now going on. And hopefully, I'll be able to use this week as a stepping stone to further my career."

Matsuyama became the fourth Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour, the most recent being Ryuji Imada in the 2008 AT&T Classic. The Memorial, even with Woods out with a back injury, featured the strongest field of the year outside the Masters, World Golf Championships and The Players Championship.

LPGA Tour

In Galloway Township, N.J., Stacy Lewis won the ShopRite LPGA Classic to take the top spot in the world ranking from Inbee Park, finishing with a 4-under 67 for a six-stroke victory.

No. 1 for four weeks early last year, Lewis ended Park's 59-week run in the top spot.

Lewis finished at 16-under 197 on Seaview's Bay Course and earned $225,000 for her second victory of the year and 10th overall. Also the 2012 winner at Seaview, she won the North Texas LPGA Shootout last month after finishing second six times in her previous 16 events since winning the Women's British Open in August.

Christina Kim was second after a 72.

Park closed with a 70 to tie for eighth at 7 under. She's winless in 10 tour starts this season after sweeping the first three majors last year and finishing the season with six victories.

Champions Tour

In Des Moines, Iowa, Tom Pernice Jr. birdied the second hole of a playoff with Doug Garwood to win the Champions Tour's Principal Charity Classic.

Pernice won for the third time on the 50-and-over tour, closing with a 3-under 69 to match Garwood at 12-under 204 at Wakonda Club.

Garwood birdied the final two holes of regulation for a 71.

They played the par-4 18th hole twice in the playoff, with Pernice winning with a putt from just under 10 feet. They opened the playoff with matching pars.

Bill Glasson, Jay Haas, Mark Calcavecchia and Michael Allen finished a shot back. Glasson shot 64, Haas 67, Calcavecchia 70, and Allen 71. Sunday's results

PGA-Memorial Par Yardage • 7,392; Par • 72 (36-36)

x-won on first playoff hole

x-H. Matsuyama 70-67-69-69—275 -13

Kevin Na 72-69-70-64—275 -13

Bubba Watson 66-69-69-72—276 -12

Chris Kirk 66-70-74-68—278 -10

Adam Scott 69-70-68-71—278 -10

Ben Curtis 69-71-69-70—279 -9

Steve Stricker 71-70-70-68—279 -9

Luke Guthrie 75-69-66-70—280 -8

Bill Haas 73-67-72-68—280 -8

Thorbjorn Olesen 71-67-74-68—280 -8

Charl Schwartzel 72-69-67-72—280 -8

Brendon Todd 71-68-69-72—280 -8

Scott Brown 70-69-71-71—281 -7

Paul Casey 66-66-76-73—281 -7

Jason Allred 74-68-74-66—282 -6

Billy Horschel 71-69-68-74—282 -6

Matt Kuchar 74-69-69-70—282 -6

Rory McIlroy 63-78-69-72—282 -6

Jason Dufner 71-69-71-72—283 -5

Ernie Els 70-72-69-72—283 -5

Martin Flores 69-68-75-71—283 -5

Jim Furyk 73-68-72-70—283 -5

Charley Hoffman 69-72-73-69—283 -5

Ryan Moore 68-70-72-73—283 -5

Bo Van Pelt 72-72-66-73—283 -5

Jordan Spieth 69-72-67-75—283 -5

Andrew Svoboda 72-69-68-74—283 -5

Also

Daniel Summerhays 74-70-68-72—284 -4

PGA Champions-Principal Charity Classic

Yardage • 6,177; Par • 71 (36-36)

x-won on second playoff hole

x-Tom Pernice Jr. 68-67-69—204 -12

Doug Garwood 68-65-71—204 -12

Michael Allen 68-66-71—205 -11

Mark Calcavecchia 66-69-70—20 5 -11

Bill Glasson 72-69-64—205 -11

Jay Haas 69-69-67—205 -11

Joe Durant 69-67-70—206 -10

Bobby Clampett 67-72-68—207 -9

Tom Lehman 69-68-70—207 -9

Bart Bryant 71-69-68—208 -8

Jeff Hart 70-68-70—208 -8

Duffy Waldorf 70-70-68—208 -8

Steve Lowery 67-70-72—209 -7

Chien Soon Lu 71-65-73—209 -7

John Riegger 68-68-73—209 -7

Willie Wood 71-69-70—210 -6

LPGA-Shoprite Classic

Yardage • 6,177; Par • 71 (37-34)

Stacy Lewis 67-63-67—197 -16

Christina Kim 64-67-72—203 -10

Haeji Kang 68-67-69—204 -9

Anna Nordqvist 69-65-70—204 -9

Gerina Piller 67-67-70—204 -9

Jennifer Johnson 62-70-72—204 -9

Julieta Granada 71-66-68—205 -8

Meena Lee 70-70-66—206 -7

Azahara Munoz 69-71-66—206 -7

Shanshan Feng 74-65-67—206 -7

Karrie Webb 69-70-67—206 -7

Inbee Park 66-70-70—206 -7