No faking it: Matsuyama torches Firestone for 61

AKRON, Ohio – Hideki Matsuyama is the king of post-shot misdirection.

Watch a look of disgust creep across his face after a 7-iron from the fairway, and you might expect the ball to end up in a greenside bunker. But watch it enough times and you’ll know to look for it about 15 feet from the hole.

The Japanese phenom sets a high bar for himself, and he has already been able to match or exceed expectations several times during a brief career. But the performance Matsuyama authored Sunday at Firestone Country Club en route to torching the field at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was his biggest head-fake ever.

As anyone who watched his warm-up session can attest, Matsuyama was entirely out of sorts just minutes before heading to his final-round tee time. Iron shots were sprayed, and drives sailed wildly off-target.

“Last night after the round, I went to the range and hit it really well and had a lot of confidence. Then I came to the golf course this morning and I don’t know where it went,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter. “It was probably the worst warm-up I’ve ever had on a tournament that I’ve won. I was shocked.”

That uneasy feeling extended to the opening tee shot, which he pulled well left. But after that, according to Matsuyama, “something clicked.”

Four hours later, he was putting the finishing touches on a bogey-free 61 that tied the course record, gave him his second WGC win of the season and left him five shots clear of his nearest competitor.

“I did hit some good shots, but I was nervous all the way around because I really wasn’t sure of my swing today,” Matsuyama said.

Uncertainty in mid-motion is a familiar fear among Tour pros, but during a seemingly flawless 61? Those are moves that would make Barry Sanders blush.

Matsuyama started the day two shots off the lead, a deficit he quickly erased with a chip-in eagle on the second hole. Another birdie followed on the next hole, and by the time Matsuyama made the turn in 5-under 30 he had one hand wrapped around the trophy.


Source : The Golf Channel

posted at 07 Aug 2017 07:44:05

 



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