DUBLIN, Ohio: Hideki Matsuyama became the fourth Japanese player ever to win on the PGA Tour when he captured the Memorial tournament in a play-off over American Kevin Na in Dublin, Ohio yesterday.
Matsuyama, 22, emerged victorious in a wild finish to become the youngest champion of the prestigious $6.2m event at Muirfield Village.
He joined a short list of Japanese champions on tour, after Shigeki Maruyama (three wins), Isao Aoki and Ryuji Imada.
“This is a future megastar,” six-times major champion Nick Faldo said on the CBS television broadcast. “This man is strong physically, mentally and technically.”
Matsuyama made his share of mistakes down the stretch, but also hit a series of precise approach shots as major champions Bubba Watson and Adam Scott fell away.
The young Japanese won with a par at the first extra hole of the sudden-death playoff, sinking a 10-foot downhill putt in front of tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
“We have a great winner. This young man is going to win a lot of golf tournaments,” Nicklaus, the most decorated player ever with 18 major titles told reporters.
“His first win in the United States, you’ve got to start somewhere and we’re proud he’s our winner.”
Matsuyama (69) and South Korean-born Na (64) finished at 13-under-par 275, one stroke ahead of overnight leader Bubba Watson.
Na looked likely to come up short of victory when he posted his final score just as Matsuyama, Watson and Scott made the turn.
The three leaders played the back nine over par and when Matsuyama also made a mess, it seemed likely Na would claim an anti-climactic victory without even a play-off.REUTERS