2014 Memorial Tournament

Matsuyama edges Na for title in one-hole playoff

By

Hideki Matsuyama won his first PGA Tour event in his second appearance at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin.

Matsuyama sank a 10-foot, 1-inch putt for par on the first playoff hole to defeat Kevin Na in the 39th playing of the Memorial Tournament, which concluded June 1. Both finished with a four-day total of 13-under-par 275.

It was Matsuyama's 23rd start as a professional on the PGA Tour. At 22 years, 3 months and 7 days old, he is the Memorial's youngest winner. That honor previously belonged to Tiger Woods, who was 23 years, 5 months and 7 days old when he won his first of five Memorial titles in 1999.

"We have a great winner," Memorial founder Jack Nicklaus said of Matsuyama. "This young man is going to win a lot of golf tournaments. This is his first win in the United States. You've got to start somewhere. We're proud he's our winner."

A native of Japan, Matsuyama closed with a 3-under 69, including a birdie on the 72nd hole to force the playoff and become the only player in Memorial history to birdie No. 18 all four rounds. Two hours before Matsuyama completed his final round, Na finished with an 8-under 64 after starting the day seven shots back of 54-hole leader Bubba Watson.

Last fall, Matsuyama came to central Ohio as a member of the International Team for the 2013 Presidents Cup. Matsuyama, who turned pro last year, earned his way onto the team after top-20 finishes at the U.S. Open (tied for 10th), British Open (tied for sixth) and PGA Championship (tied for 19th).

"(The Presidents Cup) had a great effect on how I played this week," Matsuyama said through his interpreter. "I was able to learn the course at the Presidents Cup last year. And even more so, I was paired with Adam Scott (in the final round of the Memorial). It was just luck of the draw, but I played a lot with him during the Presidents Cup and that made it easier for me today. I owe a lot to him."

Matsuyama and Scott went 1-2-1 as a duo in the Presidents Cup. In addition, Matsuyama lost his singles match to Hunter Mahan 3 and 2, as the United States retained the Cup with an 18 1/2-15 1/2 win.

Matsuyama entered the Memorial Tournament ranked 24th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Despite five wins in Japan, his best finish during his rookie season on the PGA Tour had been a tie for third in the season-opening Frys.com Open, which took place last October, the week after the Presidents Cup.

"I remember watching him before the Presidents Cup here last year," Nicklaus said. "I loved his tempo. I think you've seen the start of what's going to be truly one of the world's great players over the next 10 to 15 years."

Matsuyama not only outlasted Na in the playoff, but also bested the world's No. 1 player, Scott, and the No. 5 player, Watson, during regulation.

Scott was tied for the lead after a birdie on the par-5 11th, but closed with three bogeys and a double bogey to finish in a fourth-place tie with Chris Kirk at 278.

Watson was tied with Matsuyama at 15-under when he stepped to the 15th tee.

"If I hit 4-wood off the tee instead of driver, we make five and we win by one," Watson said.

Watson's drive went right -- way right -- out of bounds and came to rest in the backyard of a Muirfield Village resident's home, and he would double bogey the hole. It marked the fifth time the left-handed Watson has held the lead after 54 holes of a PGA Tour event but failed to win.

The game's other notable left-hander, Phil Mickelson, tied for 49th at 1-under 287. He made more news off the course, as FBI agents approached him at Muirfield Village after he shot an even-par 72 in the first round May 29.

Mickelson, a five-time major champion, is being investigated for insider trading by the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Mickelson said May 31 before starting the third round. "That's why I've been fully cooperating with FBI agents and I'm happy to do so in the future, too, until this gets resolved."

Locally, Ostrander native Ben Curtis tied for sixth at 9-under 279, marking his best finish in the event. In 11 previous appearances, his best finish came in 2004 when he tied for eighth.

Westerville resident and Muirfield Village member Jason Day was making his first appearance on the PGA Tour since finishing 20th at the Masters. Day, who entered the event ranked seventh in the world rankings but has been nursing a ligament injury in his left thumb, tied for 37th at 3-under 285.

•2015 HONOREE: Sir Nick Faldo has been named the 2015 Memorial Tournament honoree.

Faldo, 56, is a six-time major champion. Between 1987-95, he won three British Opens and three Masters and, between 1988-93, he never finished outside the top 20 in a major championship.

In all, Faldo finished with 39 worldwide tournament victories, 11 consecutive Ryder Cup appearances and, in 2009, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Faldo, a native of Welwyn Garden City, England, appeared in seven Memorial Tournaments, with his best finish coming in 1995 when he tied for 13th.

Today, Faldo serves as lead analyst for CBS Sports and Golf Channel.

Comments