Hideki Matsuyama tracks down Russell Henley, eagles playoff hole to win Sony Open

Hideki Matsuyama tracks down Russell Henley, eagles playoff hole to win Sony Open
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Hideki Matsuyama rallied from five shots down with nine holes to play and then beat Russell Henley with eagle on the first playoff hole to win the Sony Open. Here’s everything you need to know from Sunday’s final round at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu:

Leaderboard: Hideki Matsuyama (-23; won playoff), Russell Henley (-23), Kevin Kisner (-19), Seamus Power (-19), Michael Thompson (-18), Lucas Glover (-18)

How it happened: When the final twosome made the turn Sunday at Waialae, it appeared as if Henley, a two-shot leader after 54 holes, had victory in the bag. He had fired a 6-under 29 with four birdies and an eagle, and he capped that opening nine with a birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle run that featured approach shots to 2 feet, 8 feet, 3 feet and 3 feet, respectively. His eagle at the par-5 ninth, courtesy of a beautiful 4-iron from 205 yards to 3 feet, moved him to 24 under, five shots clear of Matsuyama.

But the Masters champ didn’t quit, orchestrating a back-nine charge with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 15 to pull to within a shot. The latter birdie came from 18 feet as Matsuyama continued to stay hot with the flatstick – his 7.264 strokes gained on the greens this week was a career-best mark. While Matsuyama couldn’t take advantage of Henley’s lipped-out birdie putt at No. 16, catching the lip with a birdie putt of his own, he two-putted the par-5 18th green for birdie to force the playoff as Henley, birdie-less on the back nine, again caught the lip, this time with a birdie roll from 10 feet that would’ve won the tournament outright.

In the playoff, Matsuyama laid back off the tee with hybrid before cutting a 3-wood from 277 yards out to 2 feet to all but seal the win. Henley found the sand with his tee ball, missed the green with his third shot and couldn’t get a 10-footer for par to drop. Not that it mattered: Matsuyama tapped in his winning eagle for his eighth career PGA Tour victory.

Full-field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii

What it means: With eight career Tour titles, Matsuyama ties South Korea’s K.J. Choi for most Tour wins by an Asian-born player. The Japanese superstar also has two wins this season – the first player with multiple in 2021-22 – as he rises to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings. While he got the job done with an incredible approach shot, Matsuyama’s putting can’t be ignored; his career-best strokes-gained total led the field this week, the first time he’s ever done that. He also improves to 4-1 in playoffs on Tour.

Round of the day: Matsuyama’s comeback was made possible by a 7-under 63 that tied Michael Thompson and Keith Mitchell for low final round. Matsuyama missed just three greens in regulation and didn’t drop a shot, as he played his final 46 holes bogey-free.

Shot of the day: Henley’s 4-iron at No. 9 was nice, but Matsuyama’s 3-wood to win the playoff was nicer.

Biggest disappointment: Henley. He didn’t play poorly, closing in 65, but he cooled off majorly with no birdies in his final nine holes as he let Matsuyama charge back into the mix. Plus, his playoff performance was messy. Henley now owns a disappointing 1-for-6 conversion rate when leading or co-leading after 54 holes on Tour. His only success came at the 2013 Sony Open. He hasn’t won on Tour since his third career win, at the 2017 Houston Open. Honorable mention: Haotong Li, the former top-50 player in the world who at one point last year missed 14 straight weekends worldwide, was tied for third and four shots off the lead to begin Sunday. However, he managed only three birdies during a final-round 69 and slipped to T-12, narrowly missing a top-10 exemption into next week’s American Express.

Winning quote: “I was five back at the turn, Russell was just playing beautifully, and I got on a roll.” – Matsuyama

Source: GolfChannel

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