AFP/ Los Angeles
Hideki Matsuyama eagled the first playoff hole to come-from-behind and beat Russell Henley at the Sony Open for his eighth PGA Tour victory, lifting him into a tie for the most wins ever by an Asian-born player.
Masters champion Matsuyama sank a three-foot putt on No. 18 for a dramatic win as he overcame a five-shot deficit Sunday with a stunning back nine rally at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
He continued his storybook play of late recording his second win of the season and third in his last 17 starts.
He is now tied with KJ Choi of South Korea for the most career PGA Tour wins by an Asia-born player with eight.
He helped seal the win in the play-off with a dramatic 277-yard, three-wood shot from the middle of the fairway on the par-five 18 that landed just under three feet from the pin. “I got on a roll and I am glad it came out this way,” said Matsuyama, who has shot 13 straight rounds in the 60s. “I am over the moon.”
Matsuyama kept bogeys off his card Sunday, finishing with seven birdies in regulation for his second straight 63. He shot 66 and 65 on Thursday and Friday. Matsuyama was pleased to follow in the footsteps of Isao Aoki, who became the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour in 1983 at the Sony Open when he holed out from the fairway for an eagle.
Henley won the first of his three USPGA titles in his tour debut at the Sony Open in 2013.
He began the fourth round with a two-stroke lead and got off to a hot start. The American made four birdies and an eagle on the front nine to extend his lead to five shots.
But Henley failed to hold off the charging Matsuyama on the back nine despite making just one bogey in his round. Henley had a chance to win it with an eight-foot putt on 18 in regulation but missed.
He found the bunker off the tee on the 18th hole and did the same off the tee in the play-off. After a decent second play-off shot, Henley sailed his third shot over the back of the green which set the stage for Matsuyama to easily win it with an eagle.
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