WINNER: Hideki Matsuyama is nearly unstoppable. After a rough two weeks by his standards (T27-T33), the Japanese sensation earns his fifth win in his last nine starts. He also successfully defends his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Just like last year, he did so in a four-hole playoff. In 2016, he did it against Rickie Fowler. This time, the win came over Webb Simpson, as Matsuyama, who started the round four shots back but made a playoff at 17 under after a closing 5-under 66, survived three winning birdie misses from Simpson to come away with victory. Matsuyama sealed the win in style on the fourth playoff hole with a 10-foot birdie putt. What a way to win. Oh, and this is Matsuyama’s fourth PGA Tour victory and the dude’s still just 24 years old. He already has the most PGA Tour wins of a Japanese player EVER. Again, he’s just 24. We knew that Matsuyama was insanely talented, but he keeps proving week by week just how amazing he really is.
JUST MISSED: Webb Simpson came up with the near-shocker of 2017 so far! In six prior 2016-17 PGA Tour starts, Simpson had just one top 20 (a T-13 at the Sony Open). In his last start at the CareerBuilder Challenge, he finished T-66. He did have a good history at the Waste Management Phoenix Open – posting a T-14 last year along with top 10s in his three starts at the event prior to that – but seriously, he hadn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2013. And yet, here he comes four years later, out of nowhere, firing 65-64 on the weekend to force a playoff. Simpson started the final round six shots back but made an early eagle at the third and then finished regulation birdie-par-birdie-birdie to get his shot in the playoff. He missed 15-foot birdie putts to win on the first two playoff holes (both No. 18), and then came a revolution short on a winning 30-foot birdie putt at the third playoff hole (No. 10). His fate was sealed on that fourth playoff hole. Louis Oosthuizen makes the most of his debut at this event, closing in 6-under 65 to finish solo third at 16 under. He was one shot out of a playoff. Rickie Fowler authors another close call at the Phoenix Open. This one wasn’t anywhere near as heartbreaking as his throwaway of a win last year. But after a runner-up in 2016 (his second at this event), Fowler closed in 65 to finish T-4 with J.J. Spaun. Fowler was within one coming to the 72nd hole, but it never truly seemed like he was going to win this tournament. Still, a really solid finish for him.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Hideki Matsuyama’s winning birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole of course takes the cake. It wasn’t the toughest putt in the world, but there’s a lot of pressure here, and Matsuyama hit it PURE.
QUOTABLE: “It was a struggle, especially that playoff. But I’m really happy to win.” – Hideki Matsuyama, via a translator
CHIP SHOTS: Byeong Hun An, the 54-hole leader, looked rock solid on the front nine and actually built a three-shot lead. But he closed in 4-over 40 to drop completely out of contention. That’s 14 under and solo sixth after being in prime position two hours earlier for his first PGA Tour win. … Jordan Spieth had a fine weekend as a pair of 67s pushed him to 12 under and a T-9 finish. His strong start to the 2017 calendar continues, as he’s finished top 10 in all three starts and has two top-threes. … Phil Mickelson’s strong start to 2017 continued. He was actually 14 under and just three back heading into the back nine Sunday before falling off. He would fall to 10 under by the end with a closing 71, but that was still good for T-16. Mickelson has started off 2017 with a T21-T14-T16 slate. Pretty impressive for a 46-year-old. … Jon Rahm has a solid performance after winning the Farmers Insurance Open. A third-round 65 leads him to 10 under and a T-16. … After a third-round 63, John Peterson struggled to a closing 72. Still a T-12, marking his best finish since returning from injury last October.