Weekend winners: Matsuyama wins again (Tiger tops the birdie stats)

Golf News

It might have been a mere sideshow but Hideki Matsuyama won the World Challenge/Tiger Woods Invitational. Brandon Stone and Harold Varner III also chalked up Ws

Hero World Challenge: Hideki Matsuyama

There wasn’t a great deal of chat about the Japanese star (or anyone else for that matter) despite three wins worldwide in his last four starts but the 24-year-old Matsuyama came through again in the Bahamas despite a late stumble.

The 24-year-old was seven clear at the start of the day and went into the back nine still six clear despite Henrik Stenson’s eagle at the 9th. There was a two-shot swing at the 14th and the lead was down to two after the Swede made a three at the 16th but that was that, Matsuyama getting up and down at the 72nd hole to continue his incredible run.

But all this was merely a sideshow. Tiger Woods’ return is done and dusted and he eventually finished in 15th out of the 18-man field, adding a final-round 76, his worst effort of the week. But he did collect 24 birdies which was the highest in the field.

The highlight was a 65 on Friday but the rust was never more evident on Sunday as he thinned a wedge through the back of the 6th – from the 5th to the 12th he didn’t manage a par with three birdies being offset by three bogeys and a pair of doubles. There were more birdies to come but the 18th produced another double which added up to four over and a final aggregate of four under.

What Woods said: “There were some pretty dire times when I couldn’t move. You just lay there and you can’t move – those are scary times.

“It’s great to be back playing against the best players in the world, but unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes this week. I made some poor decisions.

“Getting my lights back and my body back and focusing for a long period of time – these are things I’ve missed for a year and a half. I made some birdies this week, which is nice. I always want to be aggressive, but I made some bad mistakes – you can’t make two sevens.”

Alfred Dunhill Championship: Brandon Stone

For once four-time Charl Schwartzel didn’t prevail at Leopard Creek as a final-round 74 saw him slip to a tie for fourth – and Brandon Stone romped home by seven shots after a closing 67.

It is the South African’s second victory on Tour, he also won the SA Open in January, and he got his round going by holing his bunker shot at the 10th. That started a run of four birdies in five holes and a birdie four at the 72nd hole sealed a brilliant week.

Richard Sterne finished alone in second after posting a bogey-free 67 while Belgium’s Thomas Detry was two strokes further back in third.

Schwartzel made the expected strong start with three birdies in the first six holes but he then dropped five shots at 15 and 16, helped by finding water at the par 5 before making a mess of the par 3.

What Stone said: “My game plan was to try to get maybe one or two under through the turn and try to score on the back nine. That was the plan I set myself on Thursday and that was the plan I was going to stick to today.

“I knew I could score and I holed some great putts at the first three holes on that back nine which really got the momentum going. I think my ball striking this week was superb from the first hole to the last – 22 under par around here is not a simple task – to do that is obviously quite something.”

Australian PGA Championship:Harold Varner III

Overnight leader and local favourite Andrew Dodt shot a bogey-free, three-under 69 and still lost by two to the American.

The Queenslander led since day one but was reeled in by Varner who lost in a play-off to Nathan Holman last year. He birdied the 3rd and then added three more from the 7th to lead by one.

Varner bogeyed the 11th but then added four more birdies – from the 7th to the 15th he didn’t have a single par, mixing seven birdies with two bogeys. Dodt made it interesting with a huge putt at the 14th but couldn’t close the gap.

Adam Scott was third after a 67, the former Masters champion eagled the 15th but that was as good as it got.

What Varner said: “That was pretty awesome, I had a lot of fun out there. I’ve thought a lot about losing the play-off here last year, it was the closest I came to winning last season so it’s been playing on my mind a little bit.

“I’m now a much better, more mature player than I was 12 months ago and this win is big for me. Winning is hard, I don’t care where you tee it up, so to get it done feels great.”

 

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