Hideki Matsuyama says Rickie Fowler 'opened the door for me'
Last Updated: 08/02/16 10:21am
Hideki Matsuyama said that Rickie Fowler opened the door for him to win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a dramatic four-hole play-off.
Matsuyama was two behind playing partner Fowler with two to play, and a birdie-birdie finish was enough for the 23-year-old to force a play-off with the world number four.
The short par four 17th proved to be devastating for Fowler, who hit his driver in to the water over the back of the green, travelling 360 yards. Unable to save par, playing partner Matsuyama holed his birdie attempt to head down the 18th tied for the lead at 13-under.
"It didn't look very good," Matsuyama said. "Then Rickie opened the door for me, and I was able to walk through it.
"I'm surprised and sad that Rickie finished that way, but all I can do is my best," Matsuyama said through a translator. "I was lucky to come out on top."
The Japanese player holed an unlikely 18-footer to birdie the final regulation hole, and Fowler had to make his own birdie from inside 10 feet on the par-four 18th to go into a play-off.
"The putt I made there was probably the best putt I have ever made in my life," Matsuyama said.
He had to hold his nerve on the second play-off hole, matching Fowler's 15-foot birdie putt to extend the play-off to a third hole.
"Maybe from the outside it looked calm, but then I was nervous inside," Matsuyama said
"It was a blast playing in front of all these people. I'd say probably 99 percent were cheering hard for Rickie, but that gave me the motivation to go out and do it and win."
The runner up from last year's Phoenix Open will add this to his only other previous PGA Tour title at the 2014 Memorial, where he beat Kevin Na on the first extra hole.
Matsuyama added: "Winning my second tournament on the PGA Tour was my utmost goal for this year, so now I'm going to go home tonight and rethink the next goal."
It was a devastating loss for Fowler, who narrowly missed his chance to win his fifth worldwide event in nine months and second in three weeks after his win in Abu Dhabi.
"I was lucky to come out on top"
"With how good I'm playing, I know I can win," a tearful Fowler said. "This one hurts.
"The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven't seen me win," he added. "But I will be able to kind of hang with them tonight. I'll be all right.".
Third-round leader Danny Lee began three strokes ahead of Fowler and Matsuyama, but a 73 saw him drop to fourth at 11 under.
Phil Mickelson followed his third-round 65 with a 71 to tie for 11th at eight under. The 45-year-old former Arizona State won the event in 1996, 2005 and 2013.