Matsuyama repeats in Phoenix Open playoff

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan put his name alongside golf greats Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller.

Matsuyama sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to beat Webb Simpson and become the sixth player to repeat as champion in the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

“It was a real struggle, especially in the playoff, but I’m very happy to win,” said Matsuyama, who beat Rickie Fowler in a playoff in last year’s tournament. “I just had to keep grinding and get a chance to win it.”

Matsuyama, ranked fifth in the world after winning five of his last 10 tournaments around the globe, closed with a 5-under-par 66 and a 72-hole total of 66, while Simpson birdied three of the last four holes to cap a 64.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Simpson, who won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco among his four PGA Tour victories. “I was thrilled to finish birdie-birdie. It’s been a while since I’ve been in contention, last year sometime, but hat’s off to Hideki. He’s a great player.”

Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa birdied three of the last five holes to finish a bogey-free 65 and was one stroke back in solo third, while Rickie Fowler of Murrieta carded four birdies on the back nine in another flawless 65 that put him two shots behind in a tie for third with J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State, who eagled the third hole on his way to a 67.

Third-round leader Byeong Hun An of South Korea and Cal, seeking his first PGA Tour victory, struggled to a 73 and was another stroke down in solo sixth, while Daniel Berger totaled 68 and was four behind in a tie for seventh with Martin Laird of Scotland, who stumbled to a 73.

Fifth-ranked Jordan Spieth closed with a second straight 67 and wound up five shots down in a tie for ninth with Matt Kuchar, who recorded a 70, and Graham DeLaet of Canada, who came in at 71.

Local favorite and three-time Phoenix champion Phil Mickelson, who was an All-American at Arizona State, was within three strokes of the lead after making four birdies on the front nine, but played the back in 40 and finished at 71 to tie for 16th.

The week-long attendance for the tournament was estimated at 655,434, the most in golf history. The previous record was 618,365 set last year.

 

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