Hideki Matsuyama birdied the final two holes to tie Rickie Fowler, who also birdied the last hole of regulation. They matched birdies at 18 on the second playoff hole before Matsuyama prevailed after Fowler found the water with his tee shot at 17 for the second consecutive time.
Jordan Spieth has set the bar high for the sub-25 crowd, and that makes it easy to fail to appreciate what Matsuyama has done in his short career.
I know, it’s easiest to sing someone’s praises after they win, when their stock is highest, but these numbers speak for themselves. Matsuyama, who turns 24 on Feb. 25, now has two TOUR wins (and six on the Japan Tour). He’s made it to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in both of his seasons on TOUR and already played in two Presidents Cups.
He’s already making his fifth Masters start this year, having competed at Augusta National since winning back-to-back Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships. He says the Masters is the major he wants to win most, and he finished fifth last year.
He didn’t win last season, but still finished 16th in the FedExCup because of his incredibly consistent play. Only five players had more top-10s than Matsuyama (nine) last season. Only Jordan Spieth (13) and Jason Day (nine) have more top-five finishes (eight) since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Last week’s win moved him to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Matsuyama is known as a man of few words, even with the media from his native Japan, with whom he meets daily, regardless of what he shoots. The stats do the speaking, though.