Two-time defending champ Hideki Matsuyama withdraws from Waste Management Phoenix Open
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Two-time defending champion Hideki Matsuyama got treatment on his left wrist prior to his second-round tee time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but deemed the injury too serious and withdrew prior to hitting a shot. "The pain in my left thumb area started on 13th hole yesterday. I did some treatment last night, but the pain was still there this morning when I practiced. I decided that it was not worth forcing myself to continue to play and worsen the injury, so I was disappointed that I had to withdraw. As much as I wanted to continue to play and with the three-peat in mind, the pain was just too much." Matsuyama had not withdrawn in the middle of a tournament since The Honda Classic in 2016, when he was pained by a right hip flexor. The Japanese star, ranked fifth in the world, was trying to match Arnold Palmer, who won three times in a row in Phoenix from 1961-1963. Matsuyama, who was playing in the same threesome as Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, whom he had beaten in playoffs at TPC Scottsdale the last two years, respectively, had gotten off to a slow start with a 69 in the first round. Over the last four decades, Tom Watson (Byron Nelson Classic, 1978-1980), Stuart Appleby (Mercedes Championship, 2004-2006) and Steve Stricker (John Deere Classic, 2009-2011) are the only other players besides Tiger Woods who have won the same tournament three straight years. (Woods has done it four times.) With the early departure of Matsuyama, the Waste Management now features four of the top seven in the world and 22 of the top 30 in the FedExCup. In addition to winning the last two years, Matsuyama had finished T4 in 2014 and T2 in ’15. He came into this week on the heels of the best putting week of his career. Matsuyama ranked second in sg: putting at the Farmers Insurance Open (+2.040); tied Charles Howell III for low round Sunday (69); and tied for 12th. Justin Thomas had a chance to three-peat at the CIMB Classic but finished T17 earlier this season. Daniel Berger will go for his third straight FedEx St. Jude Classic title in June.
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