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Hideki Matsuyama exits Phoenix Open with thumb injury

KYODO

Two-time defending champion Hideki Matsuyama withdrew on Friday from the Waste Management Phoenix Open due to an injury at the base of his left thumb.

Matsuyama decided to withdraw prior to his second-round tee-time despite being treated for the pain, which started during Thursday’s opening round. He ended the first day five strokes off the pace after shooting a 2-under-par 69.

“I’ve never felt pain like this before. It is almost impossible to swing the club,” Matsuyama said. “My third straight win here depended on this, so it’s regrettable to have to drop out.” The 25-year-old started out at TPC Scottsdale on Friday morning with his usual putting warm-up, but started to feel considerable pain after trying to swing in the practice range.

Matsuyama, who was looking to tie Arnold Palmer’s record with his third straight win at the Phoenix Open, has not withdrawn from a tournament since 2016’s Honda Classic due to hip pain. It is unclear if he will be able to participate in his next scheduled event, the Genesis Open from Feb. 15 to 18.

Americans Rickie Fowler, who lost to Matsuyama in a four-round playoff in 2016, and Bryson DeChambeau ended the second round in a dead heat for first place at 10-under, after shooting back-to-back 5-under 66s.