Matsuyama wins Phoenix Open

Kyodo, AP

Hideki Matsuyama defeated American Rickie Fowler in a four-hole playoff to claim victory at the Phoenix Open on Sunday.

After finishing off the final round with a bogey-free 67 for a 14-under 270 total and a share of the lead in regulation, Matsuyama two-putted for par on the fourth extra hole while Fowler shot a ball into the water at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course.

“It was a tough match but I was given a chance when Rickie missed No. 17,” Matsuyama said of Fowler’s bogey on the par-4 17th hole.

“My birdie putt on the 18th hole (in the final round) was the best putt of my entire career. I’m so glad to have won in front of a large crowd. Winning a second title was my goal for the year,” he said.

The 23-year-old posted his second victory on the U.S. tour and first since June 2014. Matsuyama became the second Japanese player to win more than one tournament on the U.S. PGA Tour after Shigeki Maruyama, who had won three titles by 2003.

Matsuyama joined Isao Aoki (1983), Maruyama (2001-2003) and Ryuji Imada (2008) as the fourth Japanese golfer to earn a victory on the U.S. tour.

Matsuyama won four titles in Japan in 2013, becoming the first rookie to claim the Japan Golf Tour money title. He shifted his base to the United States in October 2013, and earned his first title on the PGA Tour at the Memorial Tournament the following year.

He ended the 2015 season 15th in the world golf rankings.

Fowler broke down in tears in the media center after his playoff loss, overcome by emotion talking about his family.

“The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven’t seen me win,” Fowler said. “But I will be able to kind of hang with them tonight. I’ll be all right.”

He hit two balls into the water on the par-4 17th hole — the first in regulation and the second on the fourth and final extra hole.

“This one hurts,” Fowler said.

He blew a two-shot lead on the 317-yard 17th in regulation when he blasted a driver through the green and into the water, with the ball traveling nearly 360 yards.

“I’m hitting a chip-cut driver,” Fowler said. “Usually, don’t expect it to hit on the downslope and then go 360.”

Using a 3-wood on the hole in the playoff, he pulled his drive into the lake just short of the green.

“Hit it solid,” Fowler said. “Just hit it a little high on the face and it just got up and left a little quicker than I was expecting and wanted.”