MATSUYAMA SHOOTS 61 TO WIN BRIDGESTONE BY FIVE SHOTS
7 August 2017
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama shot a nine-under-par 61 to win the Bridgestone Invitational by five shots in Ohio.
The 25-year-old world No.3, who started the final round two shots behind Zach Johnson and Thomas Pieters, sunk an eagle and seven birdies to equal the course record at Akron.
Johnson carded 68 to finish five shots behind the winner on 11 under, one ahead of fellow America Charley Hoffman. Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox all finished on seven under.
Matsuyama became only the fourth player, after Jose Maria Olazabal, Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, to shoot 61 on Firestone Country Club’s South Course.
“I played with Tiger four years ago when he shot 61, so I knew 61 was the number today,” said Matsuyama. “I was thinking about that at 16 – I knew if I birdied 16, 17 and 18, I could get there.”
Victory continues a fine run of form for Matsuyama since the end of last year. This was his sixth win in his past 20 starts – during which time he has also managed four top-five finishes and five more top-25s. He claimed his second WGC title – after becoming the first Asian player to win one last October, in Shanghai.
An eagle on the par-five second, where he chipped in from just off the green, got him moving before he added birdies at the third, sixth and ninth. He had a one-shot lead after the 10th over Hoffman, who climbed the leaderboard with five birdies in his first 11 holes. Johnson was 10 under after nine holes, following two birdies and a bogey on the front, while Pieters made a promising birdie at the second, but closed the front nine with back-to-back bogeys to fall four off the lead.
McIlroy, playing in his first tournament for 10 years without JP Fitzgerald on the bag, started three shots off the lead, and birdied three of the first six holes, only to make three bogeys in the following nine. A birdie at the last saw him finish one under for the day.