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Matsuyama finishes strong in Presidents Cup opening four-ball

Kyodo

Hideki Matsuyama won two of the last three holes to earn the International team its first score on Thursday in the opening four-ball at the Presidents Cup.

Playing with 2013 Masters champion and world No. 2 Adam Scott of Australia, the 21-year-old Matsuyama halved the match against Americans Bill Hass and Webb Simpson with a second shot on the par-4 18th that landed within two feet of the pin. The Americans conceded the hole and the match was halved. The Americans took a 3-1/2 to 2-1/2 lead on the first day.

“It was tough because we were trailing the whole way,” said Matsuyama, who will be starting his U.S. PGA tour career after this tournament. “But somehow we managed to halve it, so that turned out all right.”

Webb Simpson, who had a quiet day, opened the proceedings with a birdie. Although Matsuyama did not contribute on five of the first 11 holes, he saved three early holes by hitting par on two and matching Bill Hass’ birdie on No. 4.

Trailing by two with five holes remaining, Scott scored a birdie and an eagle on Nos. 14 and 15 to trim the American’s lead to one. Matsuyama’s birdie on the par-3 16th squared it, but neither he nor Scott could match Hass’ birdie on No. 17. Scott failed to save par for just the fourth time all day, but Matsuyama nailed his short birdie putt to win the hole.

“I was holding the team back all day, but finally at the last I was able to contribute,” Matsuyama said. “I want to do my best to contribute right from the start on the second day.”

On Friday, Matsuyama will remain teamed up with Scott against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in foursomes. Johnson and Dufner won 5 and 3 in Thursday’s finale against Branden Grace and Richard Sterne.