Hideki Matsuyama made up a five-shot deficit on the back nine and then won the Sony Open in a playoff with one of the best shots he never saw, a 3-wood into the sun to three feet for an eagle to beat Russell Henley on Sunday.
The eighth career PGA Tour victory for Matsuyama tied him with K.J. Choi for most tour victories by an Asian-born player.
“I got on a roll,” said Matsuyama, who shot 31 on the back nine while Henley made eight pars and a bogey. “I’m glad it came out this way.”
Matsuyama hammered a driver on the par-5 18th in regulation to set up a two-putt birdie for a 7-under 63 and got into a playoff when Henley missed a 10-foot birdie putt and closed with 65.
Back to the 18th for the sudden-death playoff, Matsuyama this time hit 3-wood off the tee with Henley in a fairway bunker. That left him another 3-wood, and he immediately held up his hand to shield the sun and search for the ball.
He didn’t need to see it. One of the larger Sunday galleries at Waialae erupted with cheers as the ball landed about 10 feet in front of the back pin and rolled out to three feet for the eagle.
Henley, after having to lay up out of the sand, sent his lob wedge from 85 yards bounding over the green and he made bogey.
At that point, it didn’t matter. Matsuyama tapped in his putt for his second win this season. Both times, he finished with an eagle, only he needed this shot. His eagle at the Zozo Championship in Japan gave him a five-shot victory.
Matsuyama knew his Sony Open history. It was where Isao Aoki became the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour in 1983 when he holed out from the fairway for eagle.
“To follow him up, I’m over the moon,” Matsuyama said.
They finished at 23-under 257. Matsuyama had his 13th consecutive round in the 60s dating to the final day at the CJ Cup at Summit in Las Vegas.
Kevin Kisner (64) and Seamus Power of Ireland (65) tied for third, four shots behind.