Matsuyama's US breakthrough at Memorial
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance | Wrap | 02 Jun 2014
Just over three years ago Hideki Matsuyama burst onto the world scene when, as the 2010 Asia Pacific Amateur Champion, he led the amateurs at Masters.
He would again win the Asia Pacific Amateur later that year and once again made the cut at Augusta National five months later.
Many were already predicting a great future for the Japanese star but few could have imagined the impact he would have on professional golf so early in his career.
Matsuyama won one of the Japan Tour’s flagship events, the Mitsubishi Visa Taiheiyo as an amateur late in 2011 but on turning professional early in 2013 he took the Japan Tour by storm winning four events in his rookie season and winning that tour’s money list by a huge margin.
It was not only his results in Japan that were so amazing it was his efforts in major championships in 2013 that made people sit up and really take notice. He produced the equal best final round of the day (67) at the US Open to finish 10th then finished 6th at the Open Championship and 19th at the PGA Championship.
Those performances earned him a start in the International Presidents Cup side where he won and halved a match when teamed with Adam Scott over the same course on which he won this week which may have helped today given that he was paired with the world number one today.
Even prior to this week he had shown a capacity to contend in the US, finishing 3rd at the Frys.Com event late last year and then 4th in Phoenix in February but to have been able to win in the manner he did when the demanding Muirfield Village layout was taking its toll all around him was further evidence that Matsuyama might yet become Japan’s greatest ever and perhaps their first to win a major championship.
Matsuyama’s victory should see him move to a high of 14 in the world following the release of revised rankings later today.
Today he won the tournament that Jack built, the Memorial, surviving the carnage that all, including himself, were experiencing over the closing stages before going onto win a playoff with an impressive par save at the first extra hole against Kevin Na whose final round of 63 saw him come from the clouds to so nearly win.
Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Matsuyama and finally Na all led at various stages throughout the final round although Na, who played more than two hours before the final group, had the luxury of sitting back and watching all the drama unfold.
Scott joined the lead at 14 under when he holed a lengthy birdie putt at the 11th but immediately double bogeyed the 12th when he found the hazard to the right of the green. He bounced back with a birdie at the 13th but then three dropped shots cost him his chance. It was however another good week for the Australian who finished tied for 4th.
Watson appeared to be in control until a bogey at the 14th then a double bogey at the 15th after driving out of bounds shook his foundations. He was unable to secure the one extra birdie he needed over the closing few holes and eventually finished 3rd.
Aaron Baddeley, Marc Leishman and Jason Day were the next best of the Australians when they tied for 37th.