2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Defending champ and World No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama crafted a bogey-free 5-under-par 32-34=66 in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open to tie Webb Simpson on 17-under 267, and then defeated him with birdie-3 on the fourth hole of sudden death for his fourth PGA TOUR title in 89 career starts (84 pro).
The 24-year-old, and top-ranked player in the field, bags his fourth consecutive top 5 in four visits and second straight win at TPC Scottsdale in a 2-man 4-hole playoff. Last year, he erased a 3-shot deficit in the final round (with 67) and defeated Rickie Fowler with par on the same playoff hole.
This is Matsuyama's second win on TOUR this season, joining a 7-shot romp at the WGC-HSBC Champions where he was the 36- and 54-hole leader. It’s his FOURTH top 10 in six starts, the other two being 2nd-place finishes; and if you toss in the unofficial Hero World Challenge, it’s his FIFTH worldwide win in his last nine events and SEVENTH top 2.
After opening with 65-68-68, the Japanese star began the finale on 12-under (T3), four adrift of 54-hole leader Byeong Hun An. Playing out of the penultimate threesome, he carded one eagle-3 and three birdies on 12 (of 14) fairways and 13 greens in regulation, losing 0.895 strokes with the flat stick but gaining 4.908 strokes tee-to-green.
In extra time, the duo matched par 4s on holes 18, 18 and 10, before Matsuyama dropped the winner from 10'6" at the par-4 17th. He is the sixth in history to successfully defend at the Phoenix Open but first in 33 years at TPC Scottsdale and improves to 3-0 in playoffs. It’s also Matsuyama’s third come-from-behind win:
2017 WM Phoenix Open: come-from-behind (4 shots); won in PLAYOFF
2017 WGC-HSBC: 54-hole leader; won by 7
2016 WM Phoenix Open: come-from-behind (3 shots); won in PLAYOFF
2014 Memorial: come-from-behind (2 shots); won in PLAYOFF
This was the 79th playing of the WM Phoenix Open and 33rd straight edition at the 7,266-yard par-71 (35-36) TPC Scottsdale. All four rounds played under-par with a cumulative scoring average of 70.192. Matsuyama, a 10/1 pre-tourney outright, carded rounds of 65-68-68-66 for 13.267 SG: Total.
He collects 500 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory and regains the No. 1 spot in the standings, moving up from 2nd. Justin Thomas, who missed the cut, drops to 2nd.
Top 10 in FEC standings (points):
1. Hideki Matsuyama (1,697)
2. Justin Thomas (1,614)
3. Pat Perez (858)
4. Brendan Steele (827)
5. Jon Rahm (671)
6. Mackenzie Hughes (648)
7. Hudson Swafford (610)
8. Charles Howell III (584)
9. Rod Pampling (560)
10. Adam Hadwin (507)
Note: No. 10 Cody Gribble (CUT) dropped to 11th, replaced in the top 10 by Adam Hadwin, who bumped from 13th to 10th with a T12.
With a Strength of Field rating of 415, Matsuyama banked 56.00 world-ranking points and stays at No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), 0.058 average points behind No. 4 Dustin Johnson, who was idle and dropped from No. 3 to No. 4.
The Top 10 in OWGR (finish):
1. Jason Day (idle)
2. Rory McIlroy (idle)
3. Henrik Stenson (solo 2nd on Euro Tour)
4. Dustin Johnson (idle)
5. Hideki Matsuyama (P1)
6. Jordan Spieth (T9)
7. Adam Scott (idle)
8. Justin Thomas (CUT)
9. Sergio Garcia (Won on Euro Tour)
10. Patrick Reed (T68)
Note: Alex Noren (idle) dropped from No. 10 to No. 11.
10 of the top 25 in OWGR were in the field. FOUR finished in the top 10:
No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama (P1); No. 6 Jordan Spieth (T9); No. 8 Justin Thomas (CUT); No. 9 Patrick Reed (T68); No. 12 Bubba Watson (CUT); No. 14 Rickie Fowler (T4); No. 18 Russell Knox (CUT); No. 19 Brooks Koepka (T42); No. 20 Phil Mickelson (T16); No. 21 Matt Kuchar (T9)
Webb Simpson: Playing out of the fifth-to-last threesome, the World No. 89 twirled the day’s low round with a bogey-free 7-under-par 31-33=64 to post 17-under 267, and then lost on the fourth hole of sudden death.
The 31-year-old was making his 215th career start (213 pro) and seventh start of the season with a previous-best T13 at the Sony Open. He was chasing his fifth TOUR title, first since the 2014 Shriners (as 54-hole leader), but settles for his sixth career runner-up, and drops to 1-4 in overtime.
After opening 67-71-65, the Wake Forest alum began on 10-under (T12), six back of 54-hole leader An. He kicked off with eagle-3 at three and circled birdie-3s at holes 6 and 8 (from 28'8") to turn 4-under. The North Carolinian opened the back side with five straight pars before birdieing 15, 17 and 18.
In the playoff, Simpson had birdie tries to win on each of the first three holes (from between 17 and 24 feet). He then chose driver at the 17th (playing 343 yards in R4) and hit it 331 yards to the right fringe. With an impossible angle to the back-left hole location, Simpson used the putter three times from 83'8" away for par. Matsuyama laid up with 3-wood and hit his second from 49 yards out to set up the mid-range clincher. Simpson's P2 is his best in seven appearances; fifth straight top 15; and fourth top 10.
Matsuyama’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 75 players):
Eagles: 1 (T2)
Birdies: 19 (T13)
Bogeys: 4 (T4)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.94 (T21)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.89 (T10)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.08 (1st); season-leader at 4.29
Driving Distance (all drives): 311.0 yards (10th)
Driving Accuracy: 37/56 (T6) at 66.07 percent
Greens in Regulation: 58/72 (T2) at 80.56 percent
Proximity to Hole: 31’1” (2nd)
Putts per GIR: 1.741 (26th)
Total Putts: 118 (T42); by round: 31-30-28-29
Scrambling: 10/14 (T12) at 71.43 percent
SG: Off-the-Tee: 3.873 (9th)
SG: Approach-the-Green: 8.420 (1st)
SG: Around-the-Green: 0.941 (29th)
SG: Tee-to-Green: 13.235 (1st)
SG: Putting: 0.033 (47th)
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
R1: (64): Matt Kuchar
R2: (64): Jonas Blixt; J.J. Spaun (career low)
R3: (63): John Peterson (career low)
R4: (64): Webb Simpson
Leaders/co-leaders by Round:
R1: Matt Kuchar: drops to 1-for-7 as 18-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Brendan Steele (co-lead): drops to 0-for-4 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Byeong Hun An (co-lead): drops to 0-for-1 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R3: Byeong Hun An: drops to 0-for-1 as 54-hole leader/co-leader
R4: Hideki Matsuyama: 4th TOUR win; 3rd come from behind; 3rd in playoffs
In total, 75 players from a field of 132 pros made the 36-hole cut of 1-under 141:
36 (of 65) EARLY/late; 1 WD (Pat Perez during R1)
39 (of 66) LATE/early
Of the FIVE players who finished in the top 5, FOUR were EARLY/late:
Hideki Matsuyama (P1): EARLY/late
Louis Oosthuizen (3rd): EARLY/late
Rickie Fowler (T4): EARLY/late
J.J. Spaun (T4): EARLY/late
Webb Simpson (P2): LATE/early
Did You Know?
It’s been 30 events since the last pre-tourney odds-favorite(s) won. Jordan Spieth is the most recent, winning the 2016 DEAN & DELUCA as a 6/1 outright. In fact, the Texan owns the last two wins in this regard, claiming the 2016 Hyundai TOC as a 4/1 favorite.
Jordan Spieth: Making his second visit to TPC Scottsdale (T7/2015), the 23-year-old was the pre-tourney fave (8/1) and finished in a three-way T9 on 12-under 272 (70-68-67-67). It’s his third top 10 this season in three starts, joining T3 (SBS TOC) and solo 3rd (Sony). For the week, the World No. 6 totaled 19 birdies versus five bogeys and a double and was 2nd in SG: Approach-the-Green (7.172) but 44th in SG: Putting (0.544).
First-timers and/or Rookies:
First-timers at WMPO: 15
Top-10 finishes: 3
Louis Oosthuizen: The World No. 29, bogey-free over his final 36 holes, was top debutant with solo 3rd on 16-under 268 (68-67-68-65), one shot out of the playoff. This was his third start of the season and first finish inside the top 40 (T41, Farmers).
The 34-year-old, whose lone TOUR title in 120 career starts is a major (2010 Open Championship), bags his eighth career podium and second third-place finish (3rd, 2012 Shell Houston Open). For the week, he carded one eagle and 17 birdies, six in R4, against one bogey and a double.
Top-10 finishes: 1
J.J. Spaun: The World No. 155, making his tourney debut, took top rookie honors with a two-way T4 on 15-under 269 (71, career-low 64, 67-67), two shots out of the playoff. He got into the field with a T9 at last week’s Farmers, sharing top rookie honors with Ollie Schniederjans (T24 this week).
10 (of 13) players who finished top 10 at the Farmers played this week with Spaun the ONLY one to back it up. This was his ninth start of the season and second top 25, and is a career best in 11 events. For the week, the Californian tallied two eagles and 22 birdies against nine bogeys and a double.
NINE of 12 winners this season are in their 20s, including the last SIX consecutive:
Safeway Open: Brendan Steele (age 33)
CIMB Classic: Justin Thomas (age 23)
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama (age 24)
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble (age 26)
Shriners: Rod Pampling (age 47)
OHL Classic: Pat Perez (age 40)
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes (age 25)
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas (age 23)
Sony Open: Justin Thomas (age 23)
CareerBuilder: Hudson Swafford (age 29)
Farmers: Jon Rahm (age 22)
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama (age 24)
NINE of the first 12 winners have emerged out of the FINAL group on Sunday. The three outliers:
Hideki Matsuyama: Penultimate threesome: erased 4-shot deficit with 5-under 66; won WMPO in playoff.
Jon Rahm: Fifth-to-last threesome: erased 3-shot deficit with 7-under 65; won Farmers by 3.
Brendan Steele: Third-to-last threesome: erased 4-shot deficit with 7-under 65; won Safeway by 1.
54-hole leaders/co-leaders are now 4-for-12 converting. Hideki Matsuyama (WGC-HSBC), Mackenzie Hughes (The RSM Classic), and Justin Thomas x2 (SBS TOC and Sony) have been successful.
NOTE: Matsuyama also won the unofficial Hero World Challenge as 54-hole leader.
Patton Kizzire (Safeway), Anirban Lahiri (CIMB), Luke List, Chris Kirk (Sanderson Farms), Lucas Glover (Shriners), Gary Woodland (OHL), Adam Hadwin (CBC), Patrick Rodgers, Brandt Snedeker (FIO) and Byeong Hun An (WMPO), all failed to convert.
Byeong Hun An: This was the 25-year-old’s 32nd career TOUR start (24 pro) and tourney debut. After kicking off in twin 66s, he co-led after 36 holes, his first lead/co-lead on TOUR after ANY round.
The South Korean, who lives in Orlando, tacked on a 65 in R3 to begin one clear of playing competitor Martin Laird and four better than four players. He went out in 2-under, increasing the lead to three, but came home in birdie-less 4-over for 33-40=73. Chasing his first TOUR title, the World No. 47 dropped five spots to solo 6th on 14-under 270, his third career top 10.
This was his fourth start of the season and first top-30 finish (T39, CIMB Classic). The UC-Berkeley product, who has three international wins, is a first-time member (not a rookie) and is fully exempt after finishing last season in the top 125 in non-member FEC points. His career best is P2 at the weather-shortened 54-hole Zurich Classic in 2016.
Consecutive top 10s on TOUR:
J.J. Spaun: (T4-T9)
Jordan Spieth: (T9-3rd-T3)
Justin Rose: (T4-2nd)
Rory McIlroy: (T4-P1)
Following a brief, one-week respite, the TOUR returns to California for this week’s 3-course AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (scheduled 54-hole cut). Vaughn Taylor defends after overcoming a 6-stroke deficit with 7-under 65 to beat 54-hole leader and 4-time champ Phil Mickelson by 1 (who shot even-par 72).
Taylor, ranked 447th in the world and on Past Champion status, got into the field as 1st alternate and improbably won his third TOUR title (as a 250/1 outright), ending a near 11-year winless drought.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and analysis as the TOUR plays its 13th tournament of the season (of 47).