Hideki Matsuyama hurtling toward world No. 1 after torrid run

Devil Ball Golf
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/pga/players/11446/" data-ylk="slk:Hideki Matsuyama">Hideki Matsuyama</a> is coming into his own. (Getty Images)
Hideki Matsuyama is coming into his own. (Getty Images)

Hideki Matsuyama has finished no worse than second in his last five starts. He’s won four times, including on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. That bookends a stretch in which Matsuyama also won the WGC-HSBC Champions for his second official PGA Tour win and his national Open in Japan.

Suddenly, Matsuyama is on the precipice of breaking through into the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking. Look out, Jordan Spieth.

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Always recognized as a great ball-striker — one of the best on the planet, in fact — the 24-year-old has struggled with putting. In this run, however, his putting has, at a minimum, not hurt him. For the developing sensation, that has led to more confidence on the greens that can lead to somewhat self-fulfilling results.

“When I putt well, I can contend,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270 to beat Henrik Stenson by two shots at Albany Golf Club.

“But these last five weeks I’ve been able to make some putts, and the more putts you make, the bigger the hole gets and the confidence grows and that’s played a big part in it.”

After notching a career-best major finish with a T-4 effort at the PGA Championship in July and this globe-trotting run, Matsuyama has his sights set for the next four months on one thing.

“Starting next week all my focus and preparation will be for the Masters,” said Matsuyama, who finished T-7 at Augusta National in April. “Hopefully, along the way I can play well on the PGA Tour, but the Masters is my next goal.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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