Hideki Matsuyama warmed up poorly and then turned in the best round of his career at the Bridgestone Invitational, a nine-under 61 that tied the course record and gave him another blowout victory in a World Golf Championship.
It was the lowest final round in four decades at Firestone Country Club and led to a five-shot victory over Zach Johnson.
Matsuyama knew from experience that the course record was a 61 because he was in the same group when Tiger Woods shot 61 in the second round in 2013. All it would take was birdies on the last three holes, and like everything else Sunday, the 25-year-old from Japan made it look easy.
“I knew 61 was the number,” Matsuyama said through his interpreter. “I was thinking about that at 16. I knew if I birdied 16, 17, 18 I could get there.”
He spun a wedge back to 4 feet on the par-five 16th for birdie. He holed an eight-foot putt on the 17th hole and then closed with another approach and settled 6 feet away. Matsuyama, who began the final round two shots behind Johnson and Thomas Pieters, finished at 15-under 265.
He now has won two World Golf Championships by a combined 12 shots, having captured the HSBC Champions by seven shots in Shanghai last fall. It was his fifth PGA Tour victory, and third this season, tying him with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
Johnson, winless since his British Open victory two years ago at St. Andrews, pulled within one shot with a long birdie putt at the 11th, but he could do no better than pars the rest of the way and shot 68.
Pieters was never in the game after missing four-foot par putts on successive holes to close out the front nine. He closed with a 71.
The only other player with a chance was Charley Hoffman, who also was one shot behind on the back nine. Hoffman was three shots behind on the par-five 16th hole when his caddie suggested laying up because there was no place to get it close by going for the green 282 yards away.
“I’m trying to win a tournament,” Hoffman said. “I’m tired of finishing second.”
He ripped a three-wood onto the green and over the back into light rough, chipped weakly to 15 feet and made par anyway. He wound up with a 66 to finish third, though it was a big step in trying to make his first Presidents Cup team.
Matsuyama’s final birdie broke by one shot the lowest final round by a winner at Firestone. Fulton Allem shot 62 when he won the old World Series of Golf in 1993.
Matsuyama stays at No. 3 in the world by a fraction behind Spieth, though he takes plenty of momentum into the PGA Championship next week as he tries to become the first player from Japan to win a major.
Goydos wins Champions event in playoff
Paul Goydos birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to win the 3M Championship over Gene Sauers.
It is the first PGA Tour Champions win of the season for Goydos and fifth of his career.
Both Goydos and Sauers shot 66 in regulation to get to 20-under 196 at the TPC Twin Cities.
Sauers’ second playoff shot splashed in the lake in front of the 18th green; Goydos cleared the water by less than a yard and two-putted for the win.
Kevin Sutherland shot 64 to tie for third with Steve Stricker (66) and Brandt Jobe (67), two shots back. Scott Verplank was three back after a 66. Wes Short, Jr. shot a 10-under 62, and was among a quartet of golfers finishing four shots back. That group included Kenny Perry, a co-leader with Goydos and Sauers entering the day. He shot 70.
Stroud captures Barracuda title
Chris Stroud made an eagle on his final hole to get to get into a three-man playoff and won with a two-putt birdie on the second extra hole Sunday in the Barracuda Championship, his first PGA Tour victory in his 289th start.
Owen was eliminated with a par on the 18th hole. Returning to the 18th hole, Stroud drilled his approach to 12 feet, while Werenski went over the green, chipped to 25 feet and missed the birdie putt.
The victory sent Stroud to the PGA Championship next week for his first major in three years, along with a two-year exemption. He was playing on limited status this year.
Solheim Cup rosters set
U.S. captain Juli Inkster added a pair of rookies to her Solheim Cup team for matches that will see plenty of new faces. Inkster, the captain for the second straight time, added 18-year-old Angel Yin and Austin Ernst to her 10 automatic qualifiers.
She passed over the experience in Paula Creamer and six-time Solheim Cup veteran Angela Stanford. Creamer, a captain’s pick in 2015, will miss her first Solheim Cup since she turned pro.
The Solheim Cup is Aug. 18-20 at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. The Americans rallied to beat Europe two years ago in Germany and have a 9-5 record in the series that dates to 1990.
The 10 qualifiers for the United States were Women’s PGA champion Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Gerina Piller, Lizette Salas, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie. All but Kang have played in the matches.
European captain Annika Sorenstam also preferred youth rather than familiarity with the Solheim’s uniquely partisan atmosphere.
Former Women’s British Open champion Catriona Matthew — an eight-time Solheim Cup player — was one of those left disappointed, although the 48-year old Scot will still make the trip to Iowa as one of Sorenstam’s assistant captains.
Four of Europe’s players — Emily Pedersen of Denmark, Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden and English pair Georgia Hall and Florentine Parker — will be making their Solheim Cup debuts, with Pedersen and Sagstrom two of Sorenstam’s four picks.
The other wild cards — Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Masson — will be making their fifth and third appearances in Europe’s colors, respectively. Rounding out the European team were Carlotta Ciganda, Charley Hull, Karine Icher, Suzann Pettersen, Melissa Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.