Golf: Hideki Matsuyama out-lasts Webb Simpson for second straight Phoenix Open crown

World No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama notched his fifth victory in his last nine starts worldwide, a stretch that included his triumph in the prestigious World Golf Championships HSBC Champions at Shanghai last October.
World No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama notched his fifth victory in his last nine starts worldwide, a stretch that included his triumph in the prestigious World Golf Championships HSBC Champions at Shanghai last October.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hideki Matsuyama won his second straight Phoenix Open title on Sunday, and just like last year, he needed a fourth playoff hole to do it.

The Japanese holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the fourth playoff hole, the par-four 17th at TPC Scottsdale, to edge out former US Open champion Webb Simpson.

Simpson's 20-foot birdie attempt to win at the third playoff hole, the par-four 10th, had stopped one roll of the ball short.

He had charged up the leaderboard with a seven-under 64, with birdies at the 17th and 18th giving him the clubhouse lead at 17-under 267.

Matsuyama had his chances to seize the win in regulation, but it went to a playoff when his 20-foot putt at the 72nd hole stopped inches short.

He closed with a five-under 66 to join Simpson on 267, one stroke in front of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.

The duo took advantage of the struggles of overnight leader An Byeong Hun, who started the day with a one-stroke lead over Scotland's Martin Laird but finished with five bogeys and three birdies in a 73 that left him in sixth place on 270.

Rickie Fowler, bested in a playoff by Matsuyama in Phoenix last year, fired a 65 to share fourth with J.J. Spaun (67) on 269.

World No. 5 Matsuyama notched his fifth victory in his last nine starts worldwide, a stretch that included his triumph in the prestigious World Golf Championships HSBC Champions at Shanghai last October.

"It was a struggle, especially that playoff, but I'm really happy to win," he said.

He was making his fourth consecutive start in Phoenix and has never finished outside the top five.

He thrives in the rowdy atmosphere of a tournament that attracts mammoth crowds.

Week-long attendance for the tournament this year was estimated at 655,434, by far the most for a golf tournament in history. The previous record of 618,365 was set last year at Phoenix.

With the win, Matsuyama moved atop the USPGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, surpassing Justin Thomas, who missed the cut. He denied Simpson, the 2012 US Open winner, a first US Tour title since 2013.