Matsuyama’s big breakthrough

Henry

The Japanese Hideki Matsuyama was in golf’s wilderness for two years before he pulled himself out of it on Sunday evening at the Riveira course in Los Angeles by winning the Genesis tournament against all expectations.

Matsuyama, who won the Sony Open two years ago after a playoff, suffered a neck and back injury in 2022 and could only finish in the top ten twice in two years.

He could no longer reach the top 50 in the world ranking and his future looked bleak.

But then he thought back to a message that his compatriot Shigeki Maruyama sent him, which reminded him that he could become Asia’s most successful player next to KJ Choi from Korea.

Matsuyama, who teed off six shots behind the American Patrick Cantlay, finished the fourth round in 62 shots and on 267 shots (-17) finished three shots ahead of the Americans Luke List and Will Zalatoris.

Cantlay, who was two strokes off the lead and playing with his great friend Xander Schauffele, lost the clout a bit and shot 72 in the fourth round. He and Schauffele (70 strokes) as well as Adam Hadwin from Canada were together fourth at 271 (-13).

South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout (279, -5) finished 24th after his 71 shots in the last round.

It was Matsuyama’s ninth win in the US PGA Series and he earned $4,000,000 (about R75 million) with his win.

He moved back up to 20th in the world rankings and is now Asia’s best golfer after his nine wins in the PGA Series and eight other tournaments in the Japan Series and Hero World Challenge.

* At Fancourt on George, David Ravetto became the first Frenchman to win a tournament in the Sunshine Series when he finished first in the Dimension Data Pro Aam. It was also Ravetto’s first win in the Sunshine and European Challenge Series.

He teed off on the Montagu course with a two-shot lead on Sunday morning and sealed his victory with two birdies over the first three holes. He recorded two more birdies over the second nine holes to finish his round with 69 strokes.

The Englishman Sam Hutsby was second, but he squandered his chances when he conceded par on the 13th and 17th holes.

South Africa’s Hennie du Plessis and Robin Williams and Spain’s Victor Pastro were joint third on 11 shots under par.

* At the Riyadh Country Club in Saudi Arabia, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit of Thailand won the Saudi International women’s tournament by seven strokes after recording a final-round 65.

She finished on 271 strokes (-18), seven strokes ahead of Ester Henseleit (Germany), with Minami Katsu of Japan and Charley Hull of England joint third on 279 (-9).

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai scored 69 shots in the final round and finished joint tenth on 283 shots (-5).

Paula Reto was joint 18th at 286 (-2).

The tournament’s prize money was $5 million (about R94 million) and Tavatanakit earned almost R14 million with her first place.

  • Sources: The Golf Channel, Sunshine Series