Golf: Hideki Matsuyama cruises to win at HSBC Champions
Hideki Matsuyama waved to a cheering crowd from the top balcony of a corporate suite over the 18th green at Sheshan International, where moments earlier he finished up a thorough beating of a world-class field in the HSBC Champions.
He never felt higher. His game never felt better.
And the 24-year-old Japanese star can only hope that he’s just getting started.
Matsuyama never gave anyone a chance Sunday, closing with a 6-under 66 for a seven-shot victory that made him the first Asian to win a World Golf Championships event since the series began in 1999.
And it was only fitting that he won at the event billed as “Asia’s major.”
“He was brilliant,” said defending champion Russell Knox, who played in the last group and was along for the ride. “No weaknesses the last two days. He drove the ball well and far, and his iron play was very good. And he made it look very easy.”
The only trouble came when it no longer mattered. Matsuyama realized that one last birdie would give him 30 for the week, so he went for the green on the par-5 18th and his shot bounced out of a bush and tumbled into the water. No problem. He took his drop in the rough, hit wedge to 18 feet and made one last putt to extend a streak of playing the final 45 holes without a bogey.
“No special number,” he said of his goal to make 30 birdies. “I made 19 birdies the first few days, so then I was thinking, `Well, if I make 11 more, I can win.’ So that was kind of my goal was to get to 30 birdies.”
He really didn’t need any of them.
Matsuyama finished at 23-under 265, one short of the tournament record that Dustin Johnson set three years ago. He won by seven over British Open champion Henrik Stenson (65) and Daniel Berger (69).
LPGA Tour: Shanshan Feng wins Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Shanshan Feng won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Sunday to cap a string of top finishes that started with an Olympic bronze medal.
The 27-year-old Chinese star beat Suzann Pettersen by three strokes at TPC Kuala Lumpur, shooting a 4-under 67 after finishing off a third-round 64 in the morning.
Feng won the tournament for the second time to push her LPGA Tour victory total to five, ending a drought that stretched to her 2014 win in Kuala Lumpur. She has finished no worse than a tie for fourth in her last six events. After Rio, she tied for fourth at Evian in France, then opened the Asia Swing in China with a fourth-place tie at Reignwood, was second in Taiwan and tied for third in South Korea.
Tied with Anna Nordqvist after the Swede’s tap-in birdie on the par-4 13th, Feng regained the lead with a sweeping 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th. She followed with a downhill 15-footer on the par-3 15th, and had a three-stroke lead moments later when Nordqvist three-putted the 14th for bogey.
Feng finished at 17-under 267.
Pettersen shot her second straight 66. Nordqvist had a 70, hitting into the water on the par-4 18th for a double bogey that dropped her into a tie for third with Amy Yang (69) at 12 under.
PGA Tour: Gribble wins Sanderson Farms for 1st tour title
Cody Gribble won the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title, closing with a 7-under 65 for a four-stroke victory.
The 26-year-old rookie started the day a stroke behind playing partners Chris Kirk and Luke List.
Gribble had two birdies on the front nine to stay in contention, then ran off birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16 and 17 to turn a tight tournament into a blowout. He finished at 20-under 268.
Gribble looked as if he might have trouble just making the cut at the Country Club of Jackson after an opening 73. He bounced back with a 63 in the second round to jump into contention.
Kirk and List each shot 70 to tie for second with England’s Greg Owen (68).
Rory McIlroy pulls out of Turkish Open
Rory McIlroy pulled out of the Turkish Airlines Open next week, leaving him a long shot to capture the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.
McIlroy presumably withdrew over security concerns. A car explosion in the parking lot of the Antalya Trade and Industry Chamber on Tuesday slightly injured about a dozen people. The tournament will be held at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Antalya.
Turkey has been rocked by a wave of deadly bomb attacks in the past 18 months blamed on Kurdish rebels or Islamic State group militants.
“I think it’s obvious,” was all McIlroy said Sunday when asked why he chose to withdraw.
The Turkish Airlines Open is the first of three tournaments in the Final Series to the Race to Dubai. McIlroy is No. 3 in the standings, trailing by a wide margin Masters champion Danny Willett and British Open champion Henrik Stenson.
McIlroy closed with a 66 at the HSBC Champions, well behind Hideki Matsuyama and one shot behind Stenson. Willett finished at the bottom of the pack.
Willett and Stenson are playing in Turkey.
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