Japanese Matsuyama becomes first Asian golfer to bag a WGC title

Shanghai, Oct 30 (IANS) Japans Hideki Matsuyama became the first Asian to win a World Golf Championship after he outclassed the star-studded field with a final day six-under 66 to win the $9.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions here on Sunday.

The Japanese’s four-day winning total of 23-under 265 also meant a second victory in three weeks, capping an amazing run which included a win at the Japan Open and a runner-up finish in Malaysia last week.

Olympic silver medallist Henrik Stenson of Sweden carded his week’s lowest round of 65 to finish in a tie for second with American Daniel Berger.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy closed with a 66 to share fourth place with Bill Haas of the US with a total of 15-under 273.

Matsuyama issued his strong statement of intent of winning Asia’s most lucrative event by bursting out of the blocks with an opening birdie at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

He followed that up with further gains on fifth and seventh holes before another splendid birdie blitz from the 13th to 15th holes confirmed his place in the annals of golfing history.

“This is a great victory not only for me but also for Japan as it will encourage others to play golf,” said Matsuyama, who became the first player since Jumbo Osaki to break into the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the week.

“I putted really well these last three weeks, and that’s probably the difference. I did play well today. I hit the ball a lot better. But putting was the difference this week,” he added.

Matsuyama, at 24 years and 248 days, also became the youngest player to win the WGC-HSBC Champions, beating the previous record of Martin Kaymer, who was 26 years and 313 days in 2011.

–IANS

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