Hideki Matsuyama won the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the fourth hole of a playoff for the second straight year, outlasting Webb Simpson on Sunday at TPC Scottsdale.
Matsuyama won with a 10-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 17th, the same hole where the 24-year-old Japanese star finished off Rickie Fowler a year ago.
Matsuyama closed with a 5-under 66, parring the final three holes to match Simpson at 17-under 267. Simpson birdied three of the last four for a 64, the best round of the day.
The tournament drew an estimated weekly record with 655,434 to shatter the previous mark of 618,365 set last year. A record 204,906 packed the grounds Saturday.
Matsuyama took advantage of third-round leader Byeong Hun An’s back-nine collapse. Three strokes ahead of Matsuyama, An bogeyed the first two holes on the back nine and closed with two more. The South Korean player had a 73 to finish sixth at 14-under.
Matsuyama won his second PGA TOUR title of the season and fourth overall. He has won five worldwide events in the last 3 1/2 months, also taking the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, two events in Japan and Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge.
He’s the sixth player to successfully defend a title in the event and the first to do it at TPC Scottsdale. The other five are Hall of Famers Ben Hogan (1946-47), Jimmy Demaret (1949-50), Lloyd Mangrum (1952-53), Arnold Palmer (1961-63) and Johnny Miller (1974-75). The Japanese player also is the first to win a playoff in an event two straight years since Nick Faldo at the Masters in 1989-90.
The scariest part for the 24-year-old’s competitors is Matsuyama claimed he didn’t play near his best in Phoenix.
“I don’t know if I played that well, but I won. That’s, I guess, the bottom line,” he said through his interpreter.
“It’s tough to compare how I play and the results. The results have been really good these last few months, and hopefully we can just keep it going.”
He now must keep the roll going through the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play before getting to the Masters.
“It’s very difficult to continue playing golf at a very high level,” Matsuyama added.
“There is ups and downs, especially when I’m playing bad or having a bad day. What I’m trying to do now is to work hard, correct what I’m doing wrong, and continue on.
“It’s been a good run. I’m going to ride it as long as I can.”
Phil Mickelson tied for 16th at 10-under after a 71. He made a run with four front-nine birdies, then played the back nine in 4-over with a double bogey on 17, four bogeys and two birdies. The 46-year-old former Arizona State star played his 100th round in the event he won in 1996, 2005 and 2013.
Shane Lowry had a disappointing Sunday on the greens as a level par 71 featuring 34 putts and just three-single putt greens. As a result, Lowry finished tied for 16th and picked up $90,953 to move to 98th in the FedEx Cup standings but remain just outside the world’s top 50.