Fairways And Roughs Title

Hideki Matsuyama takes the top spot again

By PGA Tour News
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AKRON, Ohio. – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational where Hideki Matsuyama returned to the top of the FedExCup standings with an impressive win. Matsuyama made it win number three on the season with a course record-tying 9-under 61 final round pushing him to 16-under and five shots clear of Zach Johnson (68). Charley Hoffman (66) was third. For more from Firestone Country Club check out the Daily Wrap-up. HIDEKI TAKES FEDEXCUP LEAD Hideki Matsuyama celebrated his 100th PGA TOUR start with a sublime win that takes him back to the top of the FedExCup standings as the Playoffs looms on the horizon. Now with three wins and three runner-up results in the 2016-17 season, the Japanese star can already book his place through to the TOUR Championship. But of course, if he wants the best chance to win the FedExCup he wants to remain in the top 5 after the opening three Playoffs events. “I'm thrilled to be No. 1 on the FedExCup list right now, but in order to win the FedExCup, you have to win one of the playoff tournaments and hopefully I can do that and keep the momentum going,” he said. Matsuyama’s win also cemented his spot as the highest ranked player on the International Team Standings for the Presidents Cup. Having played in losing teams in 2013 and 2015 Matsuyama will now be looked to as a leader of the side. “I might be ranked on top, but there's some great players on that team,” he said of his role. “So to be the leader, I mean, there's Jason Day. Jason hasn't had his best year maybe, but what a great player he is. And there's some great leaders on that Presidents Cup team, so hopefully we can gel together and bring one home.” RORY REVIVED OLD FEELINGS Rory McIlroy had three early birdies on Sunday and for a moment felt like he could replicate the last time he was at Firestone in 2014 and come out on top. He was just one shot off the lead when his 27’10” birdie putt hit the cup on the par-4 sixth hole and appeared primed to make a huge run. But instead, he dropped three shots in his next nine holes before a final-hole birdie left him with a 1-under 69 and a tie for 5th at 7-under some nine shots back. “I made that long one to go 3-under, and I thought oh, I've got a bit of a chance here,” McIlroy said. “I think the two putts on seven sort of halted any momentum that I had and then a bogey on nine… It was tough to sort of get myself back. “I hit a couple of good putts on 10 and 11, didn't go in. Just sort of was a bit of a struggle from there. It was nice to sign off with a birdie and shoot under par” McIlroy is the favorite heading into next week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow given he has won twice at the venue and has six top-10s in his seven trips on the PGA TOUR. Jordan Spieth, the man trying to be the youngest player ever to win the career Grand Slam, was happy to pass the focus to the Northern Irishman and reigning FedExCup champion. “Rory's probably the guy to beat at this point next week. I played with him the first two days and the way that he is driving the golf ball, he continues to do it there, he just has a massive advantage over the field at that point,” Spieth said. McIlroy was hip to the American’s game. “He can be the favorite. Trying to take some pressure off himself, I see what he's trying to do,” McIlroy joked. “I've won a couple times around there, I like PGA Championship setups. If I'm the favorite, I'm the favorite. I'm happy with that. Means I'm playing well. Much different than I went into my last majors. It's amazing what two weeks can do. Such is life. Yeah, all good.” SPIETH / KUCHAR 2.0 Perhaps one of the more interesting pairings on Sunday at Firestone was that of Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar. Of course, the pair provided the epic final pairing of The Open Championship recently where Spieth rallied with a late blitz to beat Kuchar to the Claret Jug. The pair were laughing and joking from the opening hole, showing there were no hard feelings. Spieth missed an 8-foot birdie try on the par-4 first Sunday with Kuchar’s caddie John Wood immediately asking. “Where was that last time?” It lightened the mood further. “It was great. I love playing with Matty. It was a good battle,” Spieth said. “A lot of respect I think was shown on both sides, and we assume and hope that we'll get more opportunities like that. “I meant everything that I said afterwards, after The Open in my speech in saying that Matt's just that classy of a guy and such a great role model. It wasn't expected to be bad blood.” For the record, both men shot 2-under 68 Sunday but Spieth kept bragging rights by being 4-under T13 to Kuchar’s 3-under T17. Attention now turns to Spieth’s quest to be the youngest player to reach the career Grand Slam at next week’s PGA Championship. He was confident he could tweak his game into peak shape in time for the Quail Hollow assault. “I know what I need to work on, I'm able to single that out, and then I know what's strong,” he said. “Really, each part of the game, there's something that I need to just put in some work with, but I do know what it is and that's the best part. It's just about going out and doing it” ZACH LOCKS UP PLAYOFFS RUN When Zach Johnson turned up at his favorite John Deere Classic last month he sat 103rd in the FedExCup standings and was in danger of missing the Playoffs. After a T5 in the Quad Cities, a T14 at The Open, and now a runner-up finish this week he has surged all the way to 36th and now is eying a return to the TOUR Championship after missing out last season. Johnson has been to East Lake seven times before. “I'm not mad, I'm not angry or upset. I'm encouraged you know?” he said after falling five shots short of Matsuyama in Akron. “Am I a little dejected that my best wasn't good enough this week or arguably my best? Yeah, but that's also good motivation. “I think if I'm going to try to find the biggest positive is that my execution's there. I've seen it the last three weeks.” HOFFMAN HUNTS MORE Charley Hoffman has made a habit of contending this season but he’s kind of over it. He wants more. His third place finish this week pushed him to 11th place on the FedExCup standings, by far the highest ranked player who has not won on the PGA TOUR this season. Some might be really happy with seven top-10s including six top 4’s and two runner-up efforts but Hoffman clearly wants to add to his four PGA TOUR wins. Sitting in the left rough on the par-5 16th three shots back of the lead at the time Hoffman’s caddie tried to suggest a lay-up from 282-yards. “I’m three back with three to play,” Hoffman said. “I mean, I’m trying to win a golf tournament, I’m tired of finishing second.” He went for it. Hit it through the green and settled for a par. In the end it would not have mattered as Matsuyama went mental. “As I tell everybody, I play this game not to finish second, I play it to win,” Hoffman said post round. “Seconds are great, don't get me wrong, but when you look back on the end of your career, you don't look at how many second place finishes.” ODDS AND ENDS Charley Hoffman moved to eighth in the U.S. Team Presidents Cup standings with another outstanding result while Canadian Adam Hadwin, who finished tied 5th at Firestone, is projected to move to 10th spot in the International Team Standings in the biggest moves. Adam Scott, who needed to make a move big moves in the FedExCup standings at Akron and at next week’s PGA Championship before taking paternity leave, made a modest move to 61st in the standings. Scott will need a huge result at Quail Hollow to stay in the top-70 for the BMW Championship without playing in that time. “It’s win or bust for me basically,” he said. After playing the first four holes of the final round 4-over, J.B. Holmes produced a 6-under 29 on the inward nine, including a final-hole eagle 2 when he holed out from 105 yards, to match the back-nine record (five players) at the Bridgestone Invitational. Defending champion Dustin Johnson fired a final-round 4-under 66, his lowest closing round since a 66 at the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston last year, to finish T17. Akron native Harold Varner III finished T50. Varner made his World Golf Championships debut after winning the Australian PGA Championship late last year to qualify for this event. BEST OF SOCIAL

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