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‘The best I’ve seen’: Hideki Matsuyama overturns six-shot deficit to win Genesis Invitational

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — It was a comeback round so incredible that his playing partner had to stop and ponder if it was the best he had ever witnessed. Champion Hideki Matsuyama’s assessment?

“Today was an OK round.”

Having started Sunday six shots off leader Patrick Cantlay at The Genesis Invitational, the Japanese golfer tore up California’s Riviera Country Club with a bogey-free nine-under 62 to win by three strokes and secure his ninth PGA Tour title, the most ever by an Asian-born player.

On a day where the field averaged 70.471, the 31-year-old opened with three straight birdies and added six more down the stretch to finish one shot shy of the course record and on 17-under overall.

It was the first 62 posted in a final round at the venue since Phil Rodgers in 1962, and left American duo Will Zalatoris and Luke List forced to settle for tied-second.

Playing partner JT Poston, who shot an even 71 to finish tied-10th, could only watch in awe as Matsuyama hit consecutive two approach shots to within eight inches of the cup en route to birdies at the 15th and 16th holes.

“I’m trying to think if that was the most impressive round I’ve ever seen in person,” the 30-year-old American told the PGA Tour.

“It’s definitely the best I’ve ever seen on Tour … He hit a couple bad drives, but then recovered nicely and never even really had that long of a par putt. It was impressive.”

Triumph secured Matsuyama a $4 million cut of the $20 million prize purse and raised him 35 places to world No. 20, but the victor was more preoccupied with the significance of his ninth win on Tour – his first since Hawaii’s Sony Open in 2022.

The triumph saw him pull away from South Korea’s KJ Choi as the most prolific Asian-born player ever on the circuit, a long-time goal for the Japanese star who became a national icon when he became the first man from his country to lift a major at The Masters in 2021.

“After my eighth win, I’d been struggling with my back injury,” Matsuyama told reporters Sunday.

“There were a lot of times where I felt I was never going to win again. I struggled reaching to top-10, but I’m really happy that I was able to win today.

“Shigeki [Maruyama] won three times here and, after I won the fourth one, Shigeki told me, ‘Hey, you’ve got to pass KJ Choi.’ So I was very happy to do that and I’ll definitely text Shigeki that I achieved this win this week.”

There was a tinge of disappointment for Matsuyama at being unable to take a victory photo with tournament host Tiger Woods, who withdrew during the second round after suffering from “flu-like symptoms” and being “treated with an IV bag,” his longtime business partner Rob McNamara told reporters on Friday.

The 15-time major champion had been one-over through six holes and two-over overall on his first competitive start of 2024 before exiting the course on a golf cart, though delivered his congratulations to Matsuyama on an “incredible” win on social media Sunday.

“I was watching all day,” Woods said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday. “Seeing a record breaking 62 and coming from six shots back is truly special.”

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