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Hideki Matsuyama Cruises to Victory on Home Soil

By: | Mon 25 Oct 2021 | Comments


MASTERS champion Hideki Matsuyama cruised to a five-shot victory at the Zozo Championship, thrilling an enthusiastic home gallery by sealing the deal with an eagle at the final hole.

The Japanese star took a one-shot lead into the final day at Narashino Country Club but trailed Cameron Tringale with eight holes to play, only to produce a sparkling finish and secure his seventh PGA Tour title.

"It's just so great to play in front of so many fans here in Japan and to be able to play well," said 29-year-old Matsuyama.

Matsuyama picked up three shots in a five-hole stretch on his back nine and almost holed out for albatross with an incredible approach into the par-five last, setting up an eagle to close out an emphatic win.

The world No 19 ended the week on 15 under and five ahead of Tringale and Brendan Steele, with England's Matt Wallace a further four strokes back in tied-fourth alongside Sebastian Munoz and Mackenzie Hughes.

Matsuyama opened with five straight pars before doubling his overnight advantage with a 50-foot eagle at the par-five sixth, where Tringale made birdie, while Steele charged up the leaderboard in the group ahead with four birdies in his opening seven holes.

The home favourite missed a short putt to save par at the eighth and found himself one behind when Tringale made back-to-back birdies around the turn, with Steele just a shot off the pace and also in contention.

Matsuyama responded by holing a long-range birdie at the 11th and converting from 12 feet at the 13th to reclaim his lead, with a 15-foot gain at the 15th giving him a two-stroke cushion over his playing partner.

Both Matsuyama and Tringale failed to get up and down to save par from off the 17th green, before Matsuyama's 240-yard approach into the 18th hole pitched inches from the cup and left him with a 10-foot eagle to seal victory in style. Tringale bogeyed the par-five last to slip into tied-second alongside Steele, whocancelled out dropped shots at the 13th and 16th with birdies at the 14th and 18th to end the week on 10 under.

Wallace reached the turn within three of the lead after back-to-back birdies from the eighth but made two bogeys on his back nine, dropping him to six under, with Tommy Fleetwood a further shot back after successive rounds of 70 over the weekend.

EUROPEAN TOUR

JEFF WINTHER secured his maiden European Tour title at his 129th attempt with a one-shot victory at the Mallorca Golf Open.

The Dane bogeyed the last to close a level-par 70 at Golf Santa Posna and end the week on 15 under, a shot ahead of Pep Angles, Jorge Campillo and Sebastian Soderberg.

Winther's victory moves him inside the world's top 200, with the result putting him in contention to qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship for the first time.

Starting the day two ahead, Winther opened with back-to-back pars and had to pitch left-handed from next to a tree after a wayward tee shot at the par-three third, before holing a 15-footer to maintain his blemish-free start.

The world No 307 ended a run of nine consecutive pars with a birdie at the par-five tenth, with Winther then holing a 10-footer to save par at the 12th and splashing out of the sand to tap-in range at the next to avoid dropping a shot.

Winther negotiated the next four holes to take a two-shot advantage to the par-four last, where he lipped out from inside three feet but converted the bogey putt from a similar distance to secure a long-awaited first victory.

Soderberg briefly held a share of the lead on the back nine after playing his first 11 holes in four under, only for the Swede to finish tied-second for the second week running after bogeys at the 13th and 15th.

Angles carded a final-round 67 and Campillo made a one-under 69 to join Soderberg on 14 under, while England's Laurie Canter jumped inside the top-five after an eagle-birdie finish helped him to a round-of-the-day 64.

“I don’t know what to say right now,” Winther said. “I’m very pleased to see both of my kids here and my friends. It’s fantastic. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know how we’re going to celebrate. We’ve got a flight home tomorrow at 10 but tonight’s going to be great I think.”

Winther paid tribute to the calming influence of his caddie, adding: “I think Stretch (Ian More) was doing a great job of making me think of all other stuff than golf. So many thanks to him.”


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