For Hideki Matsuyama, the year has been quite a good one, and the end of the year, just perfect!
He had started out the year with a victory in the Japan Open at home, while rounding it off with another trophy against a short but strong field in the Bahamas. In five tournaments, he has so far come off with four victories.
In the HSBC Champions and the Taiheiyo Masters, the 24 year old Japanese star had come off with seven-shot victories. And going into the final round at the Albany Golf Club, he had a seven shot lead over Henrik Stenson.
After the ninth hole, he was unable to make another birdie and so got his lead reduced to two shots. He had two more holes to play and thus closed with two pars for a -1-over 73 and a two-shot victory.
“I can’t say that I played well today,” he said. “But I did win Tiger’s tournament, and what a great honor it is.”
The champion made it known that his golfing idol has been Tiger Woods for quite a long while and he was happy to see Woods back in competitive action. He noted that he was 5 years old when he first heard about Woods, when the American had won the 1997 Masters.
Matsuyama was also a bit glad that the Master’s will not be starting very soon as he wasn’t sure he would be able to win if it was.
“I’m kind of glad it’s not,” he said with a broad smile, “because I don’t think I could win next week.”
And he believes that he is not close to being mentioned in the same sentence with his golfing idol, at least not yet. He hopes to play some more and get better little by little.