Hideki Matsuyama retains Phoenix Open after play-off victory
Mixed final round for Offalyman Shane Lowry who finished 10 under par overall
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan celebrates after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The 24-year-old’s fourth PGA Tour victory takes him past Shigeki Maruyama as the Japanese player with most wins on the US circuit, while Matsuyama has now had an incredible five wins in his last nine starts globally, as well as two runner-up finishes.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry finished up the competition with a final round 71 which left him 10 under par overall - seven off the leaders - and in a tie for 16th.
Starting the day four behind Korea’s Byeong Hun An at TPC Scottsdale, Matsuyama shot a five-under-par 66 to finish on 17 under, with Simpson matching him after a sparkling 64.
Matsuyama made a tap-in eagle at the long third after a superb approach and birdied the fifth from 10 feet to move into contention.
An responded by briefly moving to 18 under par, only to card four bogeys as he came home in 40 for a closing 73 which left him sixth.
Simpson had also made an eagle on the third — the former US Open winner converting from five feet, and two further birdies in an outward 31 left him only one behind Matsuyama.
Matsuyama tapped in for birdie on the 13th and matched Simpson’s gain on the 15th, but American Simpson birdied the last two holes to force a play-off.
After both players had recorded back-to-back pars on the 18th and another on the 10th, Matsuyama finally settled matters with a birdie on the 17th.
“It was a struggle, especially that play-off, but I’m really happy to win,” Matsuyama, speaking through an interpreter, told pgatour.com.
“I just had faith and belief there was going to be a chance to win it and happily I made it.”
Scotland’s Martin Laird, playing in the final group having started the day one behind An, could only match his playing partner’s 73 to finish in a share of seventh.