Matsuyama wins first title since Masters on home soil at Zozo Championship

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama won his first PGA Tour title since his Masters triumph in April as he stormed to victory at the Zozo Championship on home soil.

The Japanese star claimed the seventh win of his career with a brilliant 65 on the final day, gaining four strokes on the back nine.

Matsuyama had gone into Sunday's action with only a one-shot lead over Cameron Triangle but ended up comfortably triumphing by five shots with a score of 15 under, eagles on the sixth and 18th helping him to glory.

The 29-year-old had lost a play-off at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August but this triumph ensures the Masters will not be his sole success of 2021.

An impressive 66 from Brendan Steele saw him join fellow American Triangle on 10 under to finish the tournament in a tie for second place in Chiba, Japan.

There was another big gap below that pair, with Mackenzie Hughes, Sebastian Munoz and Matt Wallace finishing four further back on six under in a share of fourth position.

Reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood were among a group of eight players to finish in a tie for seventh place on five under.

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    Tiger Woods says Rory McIlroy "made it look very easy" after the Northern Irishman set the early pace on day one of the US PGA Championship.

    Seeking a first major in eight years, McIlroy carded five-under 65 to take a one-shot lead into the clubhouse at Southern Hills on Thursday.

    The 33-year-old, who won this event in 2012 and 2014, closed with a birdie on the final hole – his seventh of the day – to put himself in strong contention for another title.

    He teed off in a marquee group alongside Jordan Spieth and Woods, who carded 74 and 72 respectively, with the latter impressed by what he saw from McIlroy.

    "Obviously you can shoot something in the mid-60s, Rory proved that today," Woods told Sky Sports. "He made it look very easy. 

    "He had a couple of shots where he slipped away and he still shot five under and made it look very easy."

    McIlroy, who finished second in last month's Masters after shooting a record-equalling eight-under 64 on the final day, is not getting carried away just yet.

    "I came in here knowing that my game was in good shape," McIlroy said. "So it's just a matter of going out there and executing the shots that you know that you can.

    "Today I did that very well and I just need to try to replicate that tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and not get ahead of myself, but it was a great start."

    While McIlroy is in a strong position, Woods faces an uphill battle to make the cut, as he did at the Masters last month, but he is not giving up hope of a big recovery on Friday.

    "It can be done, I've witnessed it first-hand, so hopefully I can put together something similar tomorrow and get myself back in this tournament," he said.

    The 15-time major winner is competing in just his second tournament since sustaining serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident 15 months ago.

    Woods felt some discomfort towards the end of an erratic opening round, which ended with him nine strokes behind McIlroy.

    "Physically, I've felt better," he told Sky Sports. "Emotionally, I've actually felt better too. 

    "It was frustrating. I got off to a great start today, I did exactly what I needed to do starting out the round, but I did not keep it going.

    "I hit a lot of bad iron shots, put myself in a lot of bad spots and never really gave myself any birdie putts. 

    "I actually felt comfortable with the driver, I hit a lot of fairways with it, but from there it wasn't very good. Most of my bunker shots I hit were long, came out hotter than I thought. 

    "But predominately I just hit bad iron shots. That's not normally how I play, but today unfortunately that's kind of what it was."

  • US PGA Championship: Tiger Woods makes birdie at the first, John Daly in early lead US PGA Championship: Tiger Woods makes birdie at the first, John Daly in early lead

    Tiger Woods made a bright start to his US PGA Championship quest as he headed out in esteemed company with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

    The star trio played to a bumper early-morning gallery at Southern Hills, Tulsa, where Woods won his fourth and most recent US PGA Championship title in 2007.

    Woods had a birdie at his first hole and was one under through three holes, with Spieth and McIlroy soon joining him on that mark.

    Starting at the 10th hole, all three began well off the tee, with Woods receiving by far the loudest reception and hitting the longest drive of the trio at 339 yards.

    "Do you mind giving me some breathing space please. Back off a little bit," Woods said towards a camera crew as he walked down the first fairway.

    He fired a sweet wedge to three feet away from the hole and made no mistake from that range, holing for an immediate birdie.

    Woods found the heart of the green at the short 11th, his second, and sent his putt to just six inches away, tapping in for par.

    He had a birdie chance at 12 from around 20 feet away but pushed it just right of the hole. McIlroy and Spieth made their first gains at that hole.

    Speaking on Tuesday, Woods said he could "definitely" be a title contender, despite this being just his second tournament back since the February 2021 car crash that saw him sustain serious leg and foot injuries. He made the cut at the Masters last month, before fading as the hilly Augusta course took a physical toll on the 46-year-old former world number one.

    "My team did just an amazing job just to get me to a point where I could play the Masters and I was able to have that opportunity to play," Woods said. "Right after each round, it was like getting back to the house and we have an ice bath ready for you, and off you go, get on the treatment table and let's keep working at it, keep things going, and it was tough. It was hard. It was hard on all of us.

    "But I've gotten stronger since then. But still, it's still going to be sore and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It's going to be that way for the foreseeable future for sure."

    John Daly, the 1991 US PGA champion, was two under through seven holes and held a share of the lead with Robert MacIntyre, Max Homa, Y.E. Yang, Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris early in the first round.

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