Matsuyama cruises to WGC-HSBC Champions win


Hideki Matsuyama kept his foot on the gas Sunday at the WGC-HSBC Champions, cruising to a seven-shot victory. Here’s how the final round shook out at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China:

Leaderboard: Matsuyama (-23), Henrik Stenson (-16), Daniel Berger (-16), Rory McIlroy (-15), Bill Haas (-15), Ross Fisher (-14), Rickie Fowler (-14), Francesco Molinari (-14)

What it means: Matsuyama, 24, collected his third PGA Tour win and became the first Asian-born player to win a WGC title, lapping a world-class field by seven shots. He joins McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott as the only players from outside the U.S. to win three times on the PGA Tour before the age of 25 in the last 30 years and could move as high as No. 6 in the new world rankings.

Round of the day: There were a couple scorecards turned in Sunday that topped Matsuyama’s, but this honor has to go to the tournament winner, who didn’t let the big stage get to him. After sleeping on the 54-hole lead, he came out and fired a blistering 6-under 66. Matsuyama made a remarkable 29 birdies on the week and didn’t make a bogey after his ninth hole … on Friday. Matsuyama made three birdies on his front nine Sunday, and then to erase all doubt as to who was taking home the trophy, he carded three more circles on 13, 14 and 15. He did find the water on the par-5 finishing hole, but was able to get up and down after taking a drop to save par and start the celebration.

Best of the rest: Finishing well behind Matsuyama was Stenson, who tied with Berger at 16 under for a share of second. The reigning Open Championship winner shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday and took over the lead in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai in the process.

McIlroy, adjusting to new TaylorMade equipment, also made a late push up the leaderboard with a final-round 66 to get into a tie for fourth with Haas.

Biggest disappointment: Defending champion Russell Knox entered Sunday three shots off Matsuyama’s pace, but his plan to be “super aggressive” didn’t exactly pan out as he tumbled down the leaderboard with a final-round 74. Knox started out well with a birdie on his second hole, but he sealed his fate with four straight bogeys on Nos. 8 through 11.

Shot of the day: Matsuyama was essentially perfect on Sunday, but even when he was just a little bit off, he was quick to correct the problem. Case in point – this approach on No. 15 out of the thick stuff that he hit to near tap-in range. Matsuyama would go on to make the birdie putt, his third straight.

Quote of the day: "I’m really, really happy." – Matsuyama, through a translator, on the biggest victory of his career.