Tiger Woods stands with Sam Snead as the biggest winners in PGA Tour history.
The 43-year-old Woods tied Snead’s record of 82 career victories by shooting 2-under-par 70 to defeat home favorite Hideki Matsuyama by three strokes in the inaugural ZoZo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club www.accordiagolf.com in Chiba, Japan.
“This is big,” said Woods, who played the last seven holes in 1-under after the field returned for a Monday finish (Asian time) because the second round was wiped out by 10 inches of rain on Friday. “This is crazy. That’s a lot (of victories). I’m very appreciative that I’m still able to play at this level because of all the injuries and surgeries I’ve had.
“Hideki made it close, a lot closer than a lot of people thought. I missed (birdie) chances on the 13th and 15th holes, but was able to make one at 14. There was a lot of stress. Five days on top of the leaderboard is a long time.
“I don’t hit the ball as far as I used to, but I know how to manage my way around the golf course and was able to do it this week.”
Woods, playing his first tournament since a fifth surgery on left knee in August, punctuated his victory with a seven-foot birdie putt on the last hole and recorded a score of 19-under 261 in the first official PGA Tour event played in Japan.
The U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup in December at Royal Melbourne in Australia, Woods was asked if he might pick himself for the team and quipped: “Well, the player definitely got the captain’s attention.”
With the victory, he will rise to No. 6 in the World Golf Rankings.
Matsuyama, who has won eight times on the Japan PGA Tour and has a record five PGA Tour titles by a Japanese player, also finished with a 67. However, hoping to put pressure on Woods with an eagle on the par-5 finishing hole, he hit his drive and approach shot into bunkers and had to settle for a closing par.”
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy shot 67 and finished six shots back in a tie for third with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who had a 65, while U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland was one more down in solo fifth after a 70.
Billy Horschel and Corey Conners of Canada both totaled 70 to wind up eight shots behind in a tie for sixth, while Byeong Hun An of South Korea totaled 66 and finished nine down in a tie for eighth with Charles Howell III, who wound up at 69.
Eighth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State closed with a 72 and finished 10 strokes back in a tie for 10th with Ryan Palmer, who had a 67, and Danny Lee of New Zealand, who came in at 68.
Shane Lowry of Ireland, winner of the Open Championship, shot 65 to tie for 13th and fourth-ranked Justin Thomas tied for 17th, also after a 65.
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