Hideki Matusyama produced a spectacular final round to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio and continue his exceptional year.
The 25-year-old from Japan hit 16 out of 18 greens en route to a 61, finishing on 16-under-par to win by five shots from two-time major winner Zach Johnson. Charley Hoffman was third, a stroke adrift of his fellow American, on ten-under, with Thomas Pieters fourth on nine-under.
The victory was Matsuyama’s fifth on the PGA Tour and his third of the season following his wins in the WGC-HSBC Champions last October and the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.
Even more impressively, it was the world No.3's sixth victory in his last 20 worldwide starts. He has finished either first or second nine times in that span. He joins Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia as the only golfers with five PGA Tour wins before the age of 26 in the last 30 years, whilst his flawless 61 was the lowest final round ever at Firestone.
The final putt of Hideki Matsuyama's course-record-tying 61 at the @WGC_Bridgestone. pic.twitter.com/CuelM7LXo5— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 6, 2017
“Last night after the round, I went to the range and hit it really well and had a lot of confidence," said Matusyama. "Then I came to the golf course this morning and I don't know where it went. It was probably the worst warmup I've ever had on a tournament that I've won.
“I was shocked, and the first tee shot showed it. I hit it left, but something about that shot, something clicked and from that point on, I was able to find it again."
Matsuyama ties the course record (61), joining Tiger Woods (2), Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia 👏— Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS (@SeniorPlayers) August 6, 2017
61s at Firestone:— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) August 6, 2017
'90 Olazabal (Won)
'00 Woods (Won)
'13 Woods (Won)
'14 Sergio (2nd)
'17 Matsuyama (Won)
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy warmed-up for his US PGA title tilt at Quail Hollow this week by finishing in a tie for fifth alongside Paul Casey and Scotland's Russell Knox.
Encouragingly for the Northern Irishman, this week was the first time he carded all four rounds in the 60s since the BMW South African Open in January. He reserved some praise afterwards for his temporary caddie, Harry Diamond, who stepped into the breach after McIlroy parted ways with long-term bagman JP Fitzgerald last week.
“Harry was good," said McIlroy. "He encouraged me when I needed it. We both did yardages. We didn't really make any mistakes out there. He did what was expected of him, so I guess you can't not give him an A."