It didn’t take long on Sunday at Firestone Country Club to figure out who was going to win the WGC-Bridgestone.
Hideki Matsuyama holed at 58-foot eagle putt at the second hole, canned one from just outside three feet at the third, saw a 15-footer drop at the sixth then one from nine feet at nine.
How about a 30 going out to start your final 18 holes?
At that point the handwriting was on the wall in three-foot high letters:
THIS IS HIDEKI’S DAY!
It was that and then some for the Japanese star, who will have a chance this week at the PGA to become the first player from his country to win a major championship.
He was flawless on the front and the same for his nine nine.
His drives split the fairways and his irons were spot-on. At the 13th, he made one from 12 feet to go six-under. At that point, the course record of 61 was in play.
Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal share that record.
“I played with Tiger four years ago when he shot 61,” Matsuyama revealed after his win. “I knew if I could birdie 16, 17 and 18 I could get there.”
That’s exactly what he did.
His third at 16 left him just four-feet. No problem. At 17 he rolled another in from nine feet. After a 355-yard drive at 18, he hit a lob wedge inside of seven feet and dropped that for his 61 and a 16-under par finish that left him five shots clear of runner-up Zach Johnson.
Matsuyama didn’t see his 61 coming on the practice range. “You wouldn’t believe it by how I warmed up this morning,” he said after hitting practice balls off-line.
“I hit some good shots but I was nervous about my swing all day. When you’re making birdies, you get relaxed real quick.”
It was his third victory this season, his second WGC title and he is now the FedEx Cup points leader.
This one had no drama, no twists, no turns.
It was Hideki’s day.