World No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama erased a two-shot deficit with a career-low bogey-free 9-under-par 30-31=61 in the final round at Firestone Country Club to post 16-under 264, good for a five-shot victory over 54-hole co-leader Zach Johnson and matching the course record with three others (shot four times).
It’s his fifth TOUR title in his 100th career start (95 pro) – fourth in come-from-behind fashion – and checked in off a T14 (The Open), T14 (Irish Open), and T2 at the U.S. Open.
The Japanese star wins in his fifth Bridgestone appearance, brushing aside a previous-best T12 in 2014.
Overall, it was his 17th WGC event, third top 10 and second win, joining his seven-shot romp at the HSBC Champions back in October (as 54-hole leader).
After kicking off in 69-67-67, Matsuyama began in solo 4th, two back.
Playing out of the penultimate twosome, he found seven (of 14) fairways and pelted 15 greens in regulation (GIR), posting 6.578 SG: Tee-to-Green and 8.421 SG: Total.
Matsuyama carded seven birdies at holes 3, 6, 9, 13 and 16-18, all from inside of 15 feet, adding a pitch-in eagle-3 at the 2nd from 58 feet away. He recorded 1.467 putts per GIR and 1.432 SG: Putting, needing just 25 total putts.
1st- Hideki Matsuyama: 69-67-67-61 (-16)
2nd- Zach Johnson: 69-67-65-68 (-11)
3rd- Charley Hoffman: 68-69-67-66 (-10)
4th- Thomas Pieters: 65-70-66-71 (-8)
T5- Paul Casey: 70-69-67-67 (-7)
T5- Rory McIlroy: 67-69-68-69 (-7)
T5- Russell Knox: 66-71-68-68 (-7)
T5- Adam Hadwin: 68-69-67-69 (-7)
25 winners this season were in their 20s (Matsuyama)
13 were in their 30s (Chris Stroud, opposite-field Barracuda)
4 were in their 40s
Matsuyama’s Wins (5):
2017: WGC-Bridgestone (come from behind, 2-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: 5 shots
2017: WM Phoenix Open (come from behind, 4-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: PLAYOFF
2017: WGC-HSBC (54-hole leader)
Winning Margin: 7 shots
2016: WM Phoenix Open (come from behind, 3-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: PLAYOFF
2014: Memorial Tournament (come from behind, 2-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: PLAYOFF
Round 4 Stats Comparison:
Z. Johnson: 1.097
Z. Johnson: -1.513
Z. Johnson: 0.318
Z. Johnson: 1.519
Z. Johnson: -0.098
Z. Johnson: 1.421
Z. Johnson: 14
Z. Johnson: 25’8”
Z. Johnson: 29
Matsuyama: 1 eagle-3, 7 birdies, NO bogeys
Z. Johnson: 3 birdies, 1 bogey
With a Strength of Field rating of 799 (up from 630 last year), Matsuyama banks 76.00 world-ranking points and remains No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
He collects 550 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory and bumps two spots to No. 1 in the FEC standings.
Chris Stroud, playing this season on conditional status, claimed his first TOUR title in his 290thcareer start at the opposite-field Barracuda Championship (Modified Stableford scoring) in Reno, Nevada.
Playing out of the eighth-to-last threesome, the Lamar alum came from 13 points back with 8-under 64 – good for 20 points – to match 54-hole leader Greg Owen and TOUR rookie Richy Werenski, who was the second-round leader, on 44 points total.
In extra time, Owen bowed out (with par) on the first playing of the par-5 18th and then Stroud eliminated Werenski with birdie-4 on the second playing of the 18th, improving to 1-1 in sudden death (P2, 2013 Travelers).
The Texan earns a two-year exemption on TOUR and 300 FEC points for the opposite-field victory, vaulting 68 places from 144th in the FEC standings to 76th. He also earned the final spot into this coming week’s PGA Championship, his fourth appearance, first since T64 in 2014, and an invite to the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions.
The 35-year-old, a pre-tourney 66/1 outright, banks 24.00 world-ranking points and catapults 210 spots from 413th in OWGR to 203rd.
10 made cuts
8 missed cuts
6 top 25s
2 top 10s (T8, Puerto Rico Open-- as 54-hole leader)
WGC Field Scoring Average:
Back to the Main Event. This was the 19th playing of the Bridgestone Invitational and 18th at Firestone CC (South):
7,400 yards; par 70 (35-35)
Matsuyama carded rounds of 69-67-67-61 for 17.987 SG: Total (4th-highest SG: Total of season).
Matsuyama’s Position by Round:
Matsuyama’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 76 players):
Eagles: 1 (T1)
Birdies: 23 (1st)
Bogeys: 9 (T10)
Double Bogeys: 0 (T1)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.81 (T4)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.85 (2nd)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.25 (T3)
Driving Distance (all drives): 305.0 yards (T21)
Driving Accuracy: 29/56 (T27) at 51.79%
GIR: 54/72 (T1) at 75.00%
Proximity to hole: 26’8” (T2)
Putts per GIR: 1.648 (8th)
Total Putts: 110 (T11)
Putts by Round: 27-30-28-25
Scrambling: 12/18 (T15) at 66.67%
SG: Off-the-Tee: 2.694 (11th)
SG: Approach-the-Green: 6.418 (4th)
SG: Around-the-Green: 5.824 (1st)
SG: Putting: 3.051 (15th)
SG: Tee-to-Green: 14.936 (1st)
16 made cuts
1 missed cut
10 top 25s
6 top 10s
6 top 5s (T2, U.S. Open; P1, WM Phoenix Open; 2nd, SBS TOC; 1st, WGC-HSBC; 2nd, CIMB Classic)
Z. Johnson’s Season:
14 made cuts
5 missed cuts
7 top 25s
4 top 10s
2 top 5s (T5, John Deere)
Zach Johnson: The overnight co-leader and World No. 71 carded a 2-under-par 34-34=68 in the final round to conclude on 11-under 269, down one spot to a season-best solo 2nd.
This was the 41-year-old's first lead/co-lead of the season in 19 starts, and sixth career 54-hole lead/co-lead in 356 events, first since the 2009 Valero Texas Open.
He didn’t play poorly, doing enough to beat 75 other players, but finished his lap with seven straight pars while Matsuyama raced by circling four of his final six.
The Drake alum does claim his 10th career runner-up and 32nd top-3 finish. It’s his fifth top 10 in 14 Bridgestone visits, second straight, eclipsing a previous-best T4 in 2013.
Overall, it was the Iowa native’s 41st WGC event and 11th top 10, nipping a previous-best 3rd at the 2006 Match Play. His previous best in WGC stroke-play events was the above-mentioned T4 here in 2013.
After opening in 69-67-65, Johnson co-led with Pieters by one (over Scott Hend), two clear of Matsuyama. He squared a lone bogey-5 at No. 3, outpaced by circles at 2, 9 (from 27'3") and 11. Johnson leaps 31 spots to 40thin OWGR and vaults 46 places to 36thin the FEC standings.
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
R1: Thomas Pieters (65)
R2: Jimmy Walker (65)
R3: Scott Hend (63)
R4: Hideki Matsuyama (61); career low, tied course record
R1: Thomas Pieters (65)
Leader/co-leaders by Round:
R1: Thomas Pieters: Drops to 0-for-1 as 18-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Jimmy Walker: Drops to 3-for-8 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R3: Thomas Pieters: Drops to 0-for-1 as 54-hole leader/co-leader
R3: Zach Johnson: Drops to 3-for-6 as 54-hole leader/co-leader
25 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field
4 finished in the top 10:
No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama (Won)
No. 4 Rory McIlroy (T5)
No. 11 Rickie Fowler (9th)
No. 18 Paul Casey (T5)
No. 31 Charley Hoffman (3rd)
No. 34 Thomas Pieters (4th)
No. 50 Russell Knox (T5)
No. 56 Adam Hadwin (T5)
No. 71 Zach Johnson (2nd)
No. 86 Thorbjorn Olesen (T10)
No. 95 Hudson Swafford (T10)
No. 107 Scott Hend (T10)
No. 1 Dustin Johnson (T17); defending champ
No. 2 Jordan Spieth (T13); pre-tourney fave outright (8/1)
Bridgestone Debuts: 20
Top-10 finishes: 2
WGC Debuts: 8
Top-10 finishes: 2
Thomas Pieters: Making his tournament debut, the first-round leader and 54-hole co-leader labored to a 1-over-par 36-35=71 in the final round (one birdie, two bogeys), falling three places to solo 4th on 8-under 272, a distant eight back.
After opening in 65-70-66, the Special Temporary Member and recently minted PGA TOUR rookie (after The Open) co-led by one. He didn't convert his first career 54-hole lead/co-lead in 16 career TOUR events, but did bag his fifth top 25 of the season in 11 starts and fourth top 10, all doubling as top 5s.
This was the Belgian's sixth overall WGC event and second top 10, eclipsing a T5 in Mexico back in March. He jumps 11 spots to a career-high 23rdin OWGR.
Adam Hadwin: Making his WGC debut, the 29-year-old tacked on a 1-under-par 35-34=69 in the final round to wrap on 7-under 273 (68-69-67-69), good for a four-way T5 and top honors among the eight WGC first-timers.
This was the Louisville alum’s 23rd start of the season, eighth top 25, first since T22 at the RBC Heritage 11 starts ago, and his fifth top 10, first since solo 6th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational 13 starts ago. He bumps eight places to 48thin OWGR and one spot to 13th in the FEC standings.
Hudson Swafford: Making his WGC debut, the 29-year-old authored a 4-under-par 31-35=66 in the final round to back door a T10 on 5-under 275 (70-69-70-66), up 12 spots on the day.
This was his fifth top 25 of the season in 24 starts, first since solo 6th at the Houston Open 12 starts ago, and his fourth top 10. The Georgia alum climbs 11 places to 84th in OWGR and one spot to 33rd in the FEC standings.
Scott Hend: Making his tournament debut and playing out of the penultimate twosome, the 43-year-old non-member sleepwalked to a birdie-less 3-over-par 36-37=73 in the final round, falling seven places into a three-way T10 on 5-under 275 (70-69-63-73), a distant 11 in arrears of champion and playing competitor Matsuyama, who beat him by 12 strokes in the finale.
This was the Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, resident’s first top 10 in eight WGC events with a previous-best T16 at the 2014 Cadillac (Doral), and his fifth career top 10 in 78 TOUR events, second this season in five starts (T7, CIMB). He nudges 15 places to 92nd in OWGR.
TOUR Rookies: 5
Top-10 finishes: 1
Thomas Pieters: Fifth time in 11 starts this season the 25-year-old has been low rookie (T14, WGC-HSBC; T2, Genesis; T5, WGC-Mexico; T4, Masters).
TOUR Rookies: 15
Top-10 finishes: 1
Richy Werenski: Making his tournament debut, the 25-year-old took top-rookie honors with a career-best P2. It’s the first time this season (24 starts) he’s been low rookie. The Georgia Tech alum was the second-round leader with 26 points (11, 15), playing the weekend in 4 and 14 points, respectively. He was also top debutant of 29 first-timers in Reno.
Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:
Charley Hoffman (3rd-P2)
Rory McIlroy (T5-T4)
Robert Garrigus (T6-T5-10th)
Consecutive Top-10 streaks ended:
Jordan Spieth (T13-1st-P1)
Marc Leishman (T41-T6-T5)
Brooks Koepka (T17-T6-1st)
Leaders in Top-10 Finishes:
Rickie Fowler (8 in 16 events)
Jordan Spieth (8 in 18 events)
Justin Thomas (8 in 20 events)
Dustin Johnson (7 in 17)
Jon Rahm (7 in 18)
Brian Harman (7 in 25)
Charley Hoffman (7 in 26)
Rory McIlroy (6 in 10)
Hideki Matsuyama (6 in 17)
Brooks Koepka (6 in 19)
Paul Casey (6 in 19)
Daniel Berger (6 in 21)
Kevin Kisner (6 in 22)
Tony Finau (6 in 24)
Updated Top 10 in OWGR (this week’s finish):
1. Dustin Johnson (T17)
2. Jordan Spieth (T13)
3. Hideki Matsuyama (Won)
4. Rory McIlroy (T5)
5. Sergio Garcia (T39)
6. Jon Rahm (T28)
7. Jason Day (T24)
8. Henrik Stenson (T17)
9. Alex Noren (T28)
10. Rickie Fowler (9th); UP one
Note: Brooks Koepka (T17), dropped from No. 10 to No. 11
Updated Top 10 in FedExCup standings (points):
1. Hideki Matsuyama (2,754); UP two
2. Jordan Spieth (2,640); DOWN one
3. Dustin Johnson (2,409); DOWN one
4. Justin Thomas (2,089)
5. Jon Rahm (1,748)
6. Rickie Fowler (1,717)
7. Brooks Koepka (1,679)
8. Daniel Berger (1,623)
9. Kevin Kisner (1,503); UP one
10. Brian Harman (1,500); DOWN one
The TOUR heads to the 99th PGA Championship:
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina
Official Scorecard: Par 71 (35-36); 7,600 yards.
Jimmy Walker: Making his sixth PGA appearance, the Boerne, Texas, resident led or co-led after each of the first three rounds at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey: Par 70 (34-36); 7,428 yards.
Due to weather delays, he had to play 36 holes on Sunday and chased opening rounds of 65-66 with 68-67 to win by one over Jason Day for his first major title in his 18th major appearance.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and analysis as the TOUR readies for its 42nd tournament of the season.