Matsuyama beats Fowler on 4th playoff hole

Hideki Matsuyma was there to go through the door when Rickie Fowler left it open.

Matsuyama made a routine par on the fourth playoff hole to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open after Fowler hit two balls into the water on the 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I struggled all week with my game, but it really came around today and I was really pleased that it did,” said Matsuyama, the 23-year-old Japanese star who claimed his second PGA Tour victory, the other coming in the 2014 Memorial. “Maybe from the outside it looked calm, but then I was nervous inside. And I played well all day long and so it just carried over into the playoff holes. And again, happy that it did.

“I’m really happy that I won. Surprised and sad that Rickie finished that way, but all I can do is my best, and I was lucky to come out on top. … It’s been a while since the first one, and I’m just really happy.

“At 18, the 72nd hole, the putt I made there was probably the best putt I have ever made in my life.”

Matsuyama closed with a 4-under-par 67, including a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, before Fowler made his 10-footer for birdie to also shoot 67.

However, Rickie appeared to be headed for his fifth victory around the world in the last nine months with a two-stroke lead through 16 holes before he hit his drive 358 yards over the green and into the water on the 17th hole.

That allowed Matsuyama to tie for the lead with a three-foot birdie putt.

On the fourth extra hole, Fowler went with his 3-wood on No. 17, but pulled it into the water and eventually missed a nine-foot par putt.

“The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa (at the tournament) who haven’t seen me win,” said Fowler who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship two weeks ago, but missed the cut last week in the Farmers Insurance Open. “But I will be able to hang with them tonight.

“It’s gonna hurt because I felt like I had it, especially with the way I was swinging. I’ll be all right. With how good I’m playing, I know I can win.”

Harris English posted a 66 and finished two strokes back in third, followed by Danny Lee of New Zealand another shot behind in fourth after a 67, while Boo Weekley totaled 70 and was four shots down in fifth.

John Huh of Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge carded a 69 and wound up five strokes behind in a tie for sixth with Shane Lowry (68) of Ireland, J.B Holmes (67), Will Wilcox (65), and Bryce Molder (71).

Three-time Phoenix Open champion Phil Mickelson closed with a 71 to tie for 11th.

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