JAPAN’S Hideki Matsuyama became the first Asian to win a World Golf Championship on the weekend and a few weeks out from his Golf World Cup assignment in Melbourne couldn’t be in much better form.
The 24 year old was in super touch to beat a high quality field at the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai by a commanding seven strokes.
Matsuyama fired a final round 6 under 66 to win an event now being billed as “Asia’s Major”. He finished at 23-under 265, one short of the tournament record set by Dustin Johnson three years ago. He was seven clear of joint runners-up, British Open champion Henrik Stenson (65) and Daniel Berger (69). Rory McIlroy (66) tied fourth with Bill Haas (69) on 15-under.
Matsuyama’s immediate stated goal was to become the first Japanese golfer to win a men’s major.
“Winning today I feel has got me closer to being able to compete a lot better in the major tournaments, and so my next goal is, of course, to win a major,” he said. “And I’m going to do all that I can to prepare well for that.”
In the past month he has finished in fifth place at the US PGA Tour Championship, won the Japan Open and was runner-up to Justin Thomas in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
He now has ten career victories, including his third PGA Tour-sanctioned win to tie him with Shigeki Maruyama for most by a Japanese player.
Matsuyama said he was looking forward to competing at the World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club, where he has chosen one of Japan’s earlier great hopes in Ryo Ishikawa to form what is a formidable partnership.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Cup of Golf. Anytime you get the opportunity to represent your country, it is a great honour. I’m looking forward to playing well and hopefully we can team together for a victory,” Matsuyama said.
The World Cup of Golf is on at Kingston Heath Golf Club from November 23-27.
Australia will be represented by Adam Scott and Marc Leishman. Scott was showing his own good form in Shanghai, apart from a disastrous second round 80.
His full scorecard in finishing T14 was 69-80-64-66, so even a par second round would have seen him alone in second place.