Hideki Matsuyama defends Phoenix Open title

AP Photo/Matt York

It was deju vu for Hideki Matsuyama as he defended his Waste Management Phoenix Open title by winning on the fourth hole of a playoff at TPC Scottsdale.

Matsuyama won with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th hole, the same whole in which he dispatched Rickie Fowler last year on Super Bowl Sunday.

It was an intense playoff that most of the country did not see with the playoff running over into the start of Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.

The two biggest differences for Matsuyama were that he was playing former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson this year instead of Fowler and where last year he caught Fowler, this year, he had chances to put the tournament away on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 and could not get a putt to fall.

In his last nine starts, Matsuyama has five wins. This was his second PGA Tour title of the year, following the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October. He has also won two tournaments on the Japan Tour, Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and finished runner-up to Justin Thomas at the CIMB Classic and SBS Tournament of Champions.

Matsuyama also became the sixth player to defend at the Phoenix Open, joining Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller. He is the first to win back-to-back since the event moved to TPC Scottsdale from Phoenix Country Club.

He is also the first player to win an event in consecutive years with both wins coming in a playoff since Nick Faldo at The Masters in 1989 and 1990.

[graphiq id=”fvVoCUsBPCd” title=”Hideki Matsuyama Profile” width=”800″ height=”720″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/fvVoCUsBPCd” ]

For his efforts over four days at TPC Scottsdale, Matsuyama earned $1.206 million and 500 FedEx Cup points. With the win, he passes Justin Thomas and takes the lead in the FedEx Cup standings with 1,697 points.

Notables in the field at TPC Scottsdale included Rickie Fowler (T4, -15), Jordan Spieth (T9, -12), Zach Johnson (T12, -11), three-time Phoenix Open champion Phil Mickleson (T16, -10) and last week’s winner at Torrey Pines Jon Rahm (T16, -10).

Next up on the PGA Tour is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The field at the event that include celebrities from the sports and entertainment world in its pro-am portion includes Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Phil Mickelson.

Celebrities expected to play in the pro-am include Justin Timberlake, Wayne Gretzky, Kelly Slater, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers, Mark Wahlberg, Chris O’Donnell, Peyton Manning, Chris Berman, Andy Roddick, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano and Bill Murray.

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