Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is WGC-HSBC Champion after he cruised to a seven-shot victory over Daniel Berger and Henrik Stenson at Sheshan International in Shanghai.
Hideki Matsuyama began the final day of the year’s last WGC event three clear of the chasing pack and the gap was never closer than that on Sunday.
The young Japanese star opened with a birdie and made further gains at the 5th and 7th holes. He reached the turn four clear of the field. He made three straight birdies from the 13th to move eight ahead and he was able to cruise home for a comfortable win. The 24-year-old spoke after about what a significant achievement this was in his career.
“Winning today, I feel has got me closer to being able to compete a lot better in the Major tournaments,” he said. “My next goal is, of course, to win a Major and I’m going to do all that I can to prepare well for that.”
Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden closed with an excellent 65 to climb into a share of second place with Daniel Berger of the USA. Rory McIlroy finished the week in a share of fourth with Ross Fisher claiming a share of sixth place.
Scotland’s Russell Knox had been just three behind with one round to go, but he faded with a 74 on Sunday and ended up tied for ninth with Sergio Garcia.
3 Talking points from the WGC-HSBC Champions
1 – Hideki Matsuyama is the first Asian golfer to win a World Golf Championship event and he is just the second Japanese player to win on the European Tour, following Isao Aoki’s European Open win in 1983. The victory could move Matsuyama as high as sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I knew Y.E. Yang won the PGA Championship, and actually, I was surprised when they announced that I was the first Asian to win a WGC event,” he said. “I was really nervous at the start of the day, but I was able to birdie hole number one. I kind of got myself into the rhythm of the day, and after that it was smooth sailing.”
2 – By finishing in tied second place, Henrik Stenson has taken the lead on the Race to Dubai standings with just three events left of the 2016 European Tour season. The Swede is now 261,000 points clear of Masters champion Danny Willett.
“I was chasing Danny on the Race to Dubai and so was Rory, and I could see Rory was going at it. I just tried to keep up and it was nice to sneak that one in the last to go one ahead of him,” he said. “It’s going to be tight all the way to the end, and that’s the way we like it. It would be nice to go into the last one knowing that if you win in Dubai, you win overall.”
Henrik Stenson swing sequence:
3 – Rory McIlroy has also closed up on Danny Willett on the Race to Dubai standings. The Northern Irishman finished with a 66 in China to move up into a share for fourth place at the end of the week.
“It wasn’t the win that I wanted, but overall, the week’s been pretty good,” he said. “If I have somewhat of a chance going into Dubai, that’s great. But if not, I think over the course of the season, they (Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett) have had big wins and played well. They are Major champions, so I’m okay with that.”
Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China
Purse €8,000,000, par 72
1 Hideki Matsuyama (Jap) 66 65 68 66 265 €1,467,388
T2 Daniel Berger (USA) 66 70 67 69 272 €712,836
T2 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 71 67 65 272 €712,836
T4 Bill Haas (USA) 67 67 70 69 273 €336,944
T4 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 71 66 70 66 273 €336,944
T6 Ross Fisher (Eng) 69 68 69 68 274 €213,156
T6 Rickie Fowler (USA) 65 73 68 68 274 €213,156
T6 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 67 69 68 70 274 €213,156
T9 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 68 71 69 67 276 €153,979
T9 Russell Knox (Sco) 66 68 68 74 276 €153,979
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage