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.
LPGA: In Galloway Township, New Jersey, 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. Christina Kim was second after a 72.
CHAMPIONS: In Des Moines, Iowa, Tom Pernice Jr. birdied the second hole of a playoff with Doug Garwood to win the 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.
EUROPEAN: In Malmo, Sweden, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee quickly won a playoff against Stephen Gallacher of Scotland and France’s Victor Dubuisson to clinch the Nordea Masters.
Jaidee hit six birdies and an eagle three on the 11th to finish in 7-under 65 and an overall 16-under 272 for his sixth European title.