Hideki Matsuyama wins Zozo Championship, claims 1st career on PGA Tour victory in Japan

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CHIBA, Japan-Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama had three birdies in five holes on the back nine and eagled the 18th for good goals for a 5-stroke victory at the PGA Tour Zozo Championship on Sunday.

It was Matsuyama’s first PGA Tour victory in his native Japan, though he has only had one previous attempt. In 2019, Tiger Woods won the inaugural Zozo Championship, the first PGA Tour event in Japan, and last year the tournament was moved to California due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Matsuyama finished with a 65 and a 15-under a total of 265 at Narashino Country Club. It was his seventh PGA Tour victory.

If there was any doubt, Matsuyama hit a 3-wood to about 12 feet with his second shot at par-5 18. and made the eagle putt.

Asked when he thought he had won his home tournament, Matsuyama said through an interpreter, “Probably my second shot at 18, it was probably clincher.”

“It was one of my biggest goals to win in front of the Japanese fans in this country as well,” he added. “So happy that I will be able to achieve that. Also in 2019, Tiger won the Masters and won the Zozo Championship, so I’m glad I would be able to emulate that too.”

The Americans were just two at 10-under: Brendan Steele shot 66 and Cameron Tringale 69.

Tringale dragged Matsuyama by 2 strokes to the 18th hole, but the Japanese player’s eagle and the Americans’ bogey turned it into a cushion with 5 shots.

“I needed to take a few risks and unfortunately it didn’t work out, but I played 16 really good holes, and yes, that was the day,” Tringale said.

Open champion Collin Morikawa had a final round of 69 and finished 10 strokes behind Matsuyama. Tokyo Olympics champion Xander Schauffele shot 68 and was on par with the tournament, while Rickie Fowler had his second in a row 71 and finished 3rd over.

“It was not quite the same experience, did not play so well, but I enjoyed being here despite the lockdown and COVID rules,” Schauffele said. “I saw some of my family here, which was really cool. I don’t get a great opportunity to see them, so it was a bit of a bright moment for me.”

The PGA Tour’s only stop on the Asia swing attracted only three of the top 20 players in the world rankings.

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