Hideki Matsuyama shoots a final-round 62, surging to Genesis Invitational triumph

Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, hits from the 10th tee during the final round of the Genesis Invitational.
Hideki Matsuyama hits from the 10th tee during the final round of the Genesis Invitational on Sunday at Riviera Country Club. (Ryan Kang / Associated Press)

Hideki Matsuyama made a trio of three consecutive birdies Sunday on his way to a sizzling 62 and that proved more than good enough to win the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

Matsuyama had a chance to tie the course record of 61 set by Ted Tryba in the third round in 1999 but rolled his long birdie attempt three feet past the hole at the famed 18th green before calmly sinking his par putt to take a three-stroke lead to the clubhouse.

The 2021 Masters winner from the island of Shikoku in Japan notched his ninth PGA Tour victory and first since the Sony Open in Hawaii two years ago by posting the lowest final round score ever at Riviera. He hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, eight of 14 fairways and needed 23 putts while vaulting to third in the FedExCup standings.

Read more: Patrick Cantlay leads at Genesis Invitational as he goes for home win

"To win here at Riviera was one of my goals since I became a pro, and after Tiger Woods became the host that goal became a lot bigger,” Matsuyama said. “ The owner [Noboru Watanabe] is Japanese and I’ve known him a long time. I’m disappointed I couldn’t take a picture with Tiger today."

It was a remarkable performance for someone who began the day with no confidence he could win.

“I was not feeling comfortable with my ball striking … but it worked out,” he said after a 30 on the back nine. “The first tee shot was the worst shot I’ve hit all week.”

Five players were tied at 14 under with seven holes to play, but Matsuyama finished with a flourish, carding three birdies on his last four holes to get to 9 under on the day and -17 for the week. His four-day total of 267 was three off the Riviera record of 264 achieved by Lanny Wadkins in 1985.

Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his win on the 18th green during the final round of the Genesis Invitational on Sunday.

After starting his round with three straight birdies and making the turn at 11 under par, Matsuyama reeled off three birdies in a row to start the back nine. Back-to-back pars followed before he hit the shot of the tournament, hitting his approach onto the green and watching it roll to within inches of the cup. He tapped in for birdie and nearly aced his tee shot at the 16th to set up another birdie. His birdie at 17 gave him a three-shot cushion and all but clinched the victory.

“I was striking the ball well and my chipping and putting were good,” Matsuyama said after carding rounds of 69, 68, 68 and 62. “I was happy how I struck that second shot on 15. It was 184 [yards] into the wind and I executed it perfectly. On 16, I hit it five yards right of my target and it rolled the right direction. I hope I can keep this momentum going into Augusta.”

Rallying from six shots down, Matsuyama’s ninth Tour win moves him one past K.J. Choi of South Korea for the most by an Asian-born player. Shortly after, numerous fellow players praised Matsuyama, including Jordan Speith, who tweeted: "Great playing Hideki! Just make sure you double check that scorecard.” Spieth was disqualified after the second round for signing an incorrect card. Woods fell ill Friday and withdrew after six holes.

Matsuyama pulled out of the BMW Championship in August with a back injury and feared he might never win again.

“Reaching nine wins and passing K.J. is great after struggling with my back injury and also my neck has been hurting and bothering me for a long time, but since start of this year it’s been getting better,” he said. “So I’m really happy I was able to win today.”

Will Zalatoris and Luke List tied for second at -14 while Canadian Adam Hadwin, San Diego native Xander Schauffele and Long Beach native Patrick Cantlay finished in a three-way tie for fourth, four shots behind the winner. Schauffele had a chance for a share of second, but his birdie putt at 18 lipped out. Moments earlier, Cantlay came up with his best putt of the day to birdie the last hole and reach 13 under. He started the day with a two-shot lead at -14 after a third-round 70.

Hadwin’s 65 was the second-lowest round Sunday. List and Harris English (who finished alone in seventh) were the only two players besides Matsuyama to shoot four rounds in the 60s.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.