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Hideki Matsuyama | Genesis Open

By The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama set the Riviera record for the lowest closing round by a winner Sunday in the Genesis Invitational, giving the Japanese star another record that means far more to him.

Matsuyama rallied from a six-shot deficit with a 9-under 62, punctuated by consecutive shots inside a foot of the hole, to win for the ninth time in his career on the PGA Tour. That breaks the record for Asian-born players he shared with K.J. Choi of South Korea.

Matsuyama finished at 17-under 267 for a three-shot victory over Will Zalatoris (69) and Luke List (68). Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, best friends playing in the final group, faded in the middle of the back nine and tied for fourth.

It was Matsuyama’s first victory since his playoff win at the Sony Open two years ago, after which Shigeki Maruyama sent him a text to remind him of a conversation they once had about becoming the most prolific PGA Tour winner of Asian players.

This one looked unlikely at the start of a final round in which Cantlay had a two-shot lead and looked to be in total control of his game. But it was a struggle from the start for Cantlay, who couldn’t find fairways or greens or make many putts that mattered.

Cantlay missed a 12-foot birdie attempt on the easy par-5 opening hole, and then didn’t have another birdie putt until the sixth hole. He closed with a 72.

Cantlay played with Schauffele, who struggled just as much. Schauffele got back in the mix with a tough birdie on the par-4 10th and holing a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 11th. He bogeyed the next three holes and and rallied at the end for a 70.

List set the early pace. Zalatoris took the lead in the middle of the back nine. At one point there was a five-way tie for the lead heading to the tough stretch on the back nine at Riviera.

And then Matsuyama seized control with sheer brilliance. His approach to the tough 15th carried the bunker and rolled out to 8 inches.

“The second shot on 15 was probably the best shot I had,” he said through his interpreter.

On the par-3 16th, he let the club dangle as he followed the flight, unsure where it would go until he heard the crowd cheer for a shot that rolled to within 6 inches. He got up-and-down for a third straight birdie on the par-5 17th to stretch his lead to three shots, and by then, no one could catch him.

Matsuyama’s final act was a sharp-breaking 4-footer for par on the final hole, and he clinched his fist — a rare show of emotion by the Japanese star — when it dropped. His 62 broke, by one, the Riviera record for best closing round by a winner set by Doug Tewell in 1986.

Matsuyama had struggled the last two years, starting with a neck and back injury at Bay Hill in March 2022. He had only six top 10s worldwide during that stretch and fell out of the top 50 in the world.

“Ever since that injury, I was worried every week something bad might happen,” Matsuyama said. “This week I had no issue. I played without any worries. That really helped.”

The win was worth $4 million from the $20 million purse and moves him to No. 20 in the world with the entire major season ahead of him. Matsuyama now has 18 wins worldwide, eight on the Japan Golf Tour and the unofficial Hero World Challenge, also hosted by Tiger Woods.

Check out “Watts” in Hideki Matsuyama’s bag below.

Driver: Srixon ZX5 Mk II LS (9.5 degrees) – Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (15 degrees) – Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 TX

5-wood: Cobra King RadSpeed Tour (17.5 degrees @19) – Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 10 TX

Irons: Srixon Z-Forged II (4-PW) – Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Wedges: Cleveland RTX 4 Forged Prototype (52-10, 56-8, 60-08)  – Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype – Grip: Scotty Cameron

Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV