Hideki Matsuyama wins the Zozo Championship

To hear PGA Tour veteran Pat Perez tell it, Hideki Matsuyama is beloved like a rock star at home in Japan.

“I played behind Hideki [on Friday], and it’s like seeing Elvis,” Perez said.

In bright sunshine, Matsuyama gave his adoring fans an unforgettable performance, making three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to overtake Cameron Tringale and win the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship by five strokes in his homeland, about 30 minutes northeast of Tokyo.

Matsuyama, who has won eight times on the Japan Golf Tour, shot 5-under 65 at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, to notch his seventh PGA Tour title and win at home for the first time since the 2016 Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters.

“It was one of my goals to win in front of the Japanese fans,” he said.

Limited crowds of 5,000 fans were permitted at the course each day due to the global pandemic, and Matsuyama had an entire country living and dying with his every swing.

“I told him I don’t know how you deal with the cameras all of the time. He said, ‘I pull my hair out sometimes,’ ” said Perez, who joined the Golf Channel’s broadcast after his third round. “He’s had it for so many years now. It’s second nature to him. I can’t believe being the guy he is in the country right now. Everybody wants him to win. And here he is leading. And the pressure … it doesn’t look like it phases him at all.”

Matsuyama’s popularity has soared to new heights since he became the first male Japanese golfer to win one of the four majors, capturing the Masters on April 11 by one stroke over Will Zalatoris.

At the Zozo Championship, Matsuyama opened with a bogey-free 64, grabbed the lead in the second round with a 68 and maintained a one-stroke advantage with another 68 on Saturday.

His lead grew to two with an eagle at the sixth hole, but a three-putt bogey at the eighth hole combined with Tringale making birdies at Nos. 8 and 9 to reach 12 under meant Matsuyama had gone from the hunted to the hunter.

Tringale was searching for his first victory in his 314th PGA Tour start, just 10 fewer than Rickie Barnes, who has made the most starts (323) without a victory. Tringale already owns the dubious distinction of being the all-time money leader without a victory. The 34-year-old entered the week with earnings of $14,522,401, 141st all time and a spot ahead of former World No. 1 and 20-time Tour winner Greg Norman, and crossed the $15-million mark by cashing a check for $875,600.

“Winning that first one is the hardest,” said four-time Tour winner Ryan Palmer.

Just when it seemed as if it might finally be Tringale’s day, he failed to make another birdie and Matsuyama answered at the 11th with a 40-foot left-to-right bending downhill birdie putt and pumped his fist. Two holes later, he wedged to 10 feet and sank the putt to regain the lead. He tacked on another birdie at 15 to build a two-stroke advantage. Both

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By: Adam Schupak
Title: Hideki Matsuyama wins the Zozo Championship
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/10/24/hideki-matsuyama-wins-the-zozo-championship/
Published Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2021 06:54:57 +0000

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