Matsuyama defeats emotional Fowler in playoff
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama won his second PGA Tour event by beating world number four, Rickie Fowler, at the fourth play-off hole of the Phoenix Open in Arizona after both players had four-under rounds of 67 to finish on 14 under.
Leading by two with two holes to play, Fowler hit driver on the reachable par-4 17th. He hit it too well and the ball ran through the green and into the water. Fowler made bogey, Matsuyama birdie and the two were tied going to the par-4 18th.
Matsuyama putted first, nailing a 12 metre putt for birdie to put the pressure on Fowler, who answered by sinking an 8 metre putt to send the tournament into extra time.
The playoff was filled with more dramas as Fowler let another opportunity slip by. After halving three playoff holes, the pair came to the 17th again. This time, Fowler chose a fairway wood, but this time hooked his tee shot into the water, leading to another bogey.
Fowler missed a chance for his fifth win on tour in nine months. He started the run in May last year at The Players Championship, won the Scottish Open the week before the British Open, the Deutsche Bank Championship in September and the European Tour event two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s gonna hurt,” said Fowler, who also shot 67. “I felt like I had it, especially with the way I was swinging.”
“The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven’t seen me win.”
Matsuyama won the 2014 Memorial for his only other PGA Tour title, beating Kevin Na on the first extra hole. The 23-year-old Japanese player tied for second last year in Scottsdale, a stroke behind Brooks Koepka.
Harris English shot a 66 to tie for third at 12 under.
Third-round leader Danny Lee had a 73 to drop to fourth at 11 under. The South Korean-born New Zealander began the day three strokes ahead of playing partners Fowler and Matsuyama.
Geoff Ogilvy finished top of the Aussies in a tie for 51st position at even par after carding a final round 73 in what was an overall disappointing week for the Australians. Matt Jones was the next best finishing at 3-over and in a tie for 60th.
Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Smith, John Senden, Steven Bowditch all missed the weekend.