“I Wasn’t Striking The Ball Really Well” – Hideki Matsuyama Erases A 6-Stroke Deficit To Win The Genesis Invitational

Hideki Matsuyama
CBS

What a freaking final round at Riviera by Hideki Matsuyama. When you go down by six shots entering the final round, you’re just full-sending, flag-hunting and hoping those atop the leaderboard backslide at least a little bit.

Well, all those things happened and then some, because Matsuyama was basically unconscious on the back nine.

Calling this one of the PGA Tour’s all-time Sunday rallies isn’t a stretch whatsoever. It’s one thing to throw up a low number when you think you’ve already shot your way out of the tournament. It’s another thing entirely to vault all the way to the top of the leaderboard, handle the pressure and keep your foot on the gas to separate yourself from everyone else.

You know how much of a sicko Hideki Matsuyama is, though? The first words he said post-victory were to do with not quite hitting the ball as well as he wanted to:

“I wasn’t striking the ball really well but my chipping and putting was you know working a lot this week especially the 15 second shot on the 15 was one of probably one of the best shot I had so that really helped. […] [But] I don’t think I’m supposed to ask for more.”

 

THIS MAN. Yeah! You shouldn’t ask for more! A sixty-freaking-two to blow everyone out of the water at Riviera? Get outta here. GTFOH, Hideki. But seriously, we love you for it.

Can you imagine what Matsuyama could shoot if he was actually firing on all cylinders by his own definition? Forget joining the 59 club. We might have a 56 or 57 in play someday.

Matsuyama seemingly cooled off after birdieing his first three holes of the afternoon. Turns out, he was more or less biding his time to make a major move, saving his best for last. The amount of quality shots he hit down the stretch is mind-blowing. When he wasn’t chipping it close, or canning 40-footers in the rare instance he wasn’t all over the pin, Matsuyama was dialed in with the irons.

The former Masters champion showed his competitive mettle and, frankly, annoyed this writer and relative golfing hack once again with his trademark, “F*ck That’s A Terrible Shot…Oops Never Mind I Just Hit It Absolutely Stiff” post-swing body language.

On that ridiculous, towering 6 iron on No. 15, it looked like Matsuyama wanted to stick the finish before dropping his arms to his side in apparent disgust. I’m only speculating because he has a history of this sort of behavior. Then, on the 16th hole, you can’t deny that he hated that shot…and look where it ended up.

Those approaches were really the difference in the tournament. Straight-up nails stuff from Matsuyama. He backed that up with yet another birdie at the par-5 17th before a steely two-putt par at the last to shoot 62.

In. His. Bag.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Matsuyama strike a bad ball on live TV. He must blow a gasket in his brain every time he hits it, like, 40 feet or more off target. Kind of impressive that he keeps it together if he’s that much of a perfectionist.

Considering that as of Friday the biggest storyline from the Genesis Open was Tiger Woods withdrawing due to illness, I’d say us golf stans made out pretty well with Matsuyama putting on a complete and utter clinic while the rest of the leaders floundered on the punishing course. Will Zalatoris finished second as his encouraging comeback from back surgery continues. Unfortunately for him, Willy Z’s biggest highlight wasn’t on Sunday, but rather a hole-in-one on Friday.

Hats off to Hideki. What an electric finish. Cool little anecdote here to end.

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