Tiger Woods shot a closing 76 to tumble to 15th place in a field of 17 on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge. That was disappointing for him, to be sure, but it was a successful week in a lot of ways for Woods. It was also a successful week for the winner, Hideki Matsuyama, who finished at 18 under after a 73 on Sunday.
For Matsuyama, it is his fourth win worldwide in his last five starts, including the WGC-HSBC Champions in China earlier this fall. He held off Henrik Stenson by two strokes despite shooting a poor 39 on the back nine on Sunday.
"I've played very, very well until today," Matsuyama said after his round via a translator. "Today I struggled a bit."
He is correct on both accounts. Matsuyama's 73 was one of the worst scores in the field on Sunday, but it was enough for another big win for the 24-year-old, who seems to be flipping the switch on his immense talent. Matsuyama has always been one of the elite ball-strikers on the PGA Tour, and when he can assemble a putting stroke for weeks at a time, he's outrageously good. He has been doing just that more and more over the past few months which sets up a fascinating 2017 in which he will chase the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth at the apex of their respective powers.
Throw in another stud like Matsuyama operating at peak performance level and the major championships are going to be a bloodbath. Not that Matsuyama can't win one of them. He finished second in the field this week (to Tiger!) with 22 birdies made, and he limited his mistakes when he needed to on Sunday. He should be a monster all season in 2017.
Here is the final top five from the Bahamas.
1. Hideki Matsuyama (18 under) -- I'm all the way in on the Matsuyama Experience. From the pure irons to the never-changing demeanor, he's a cool customer. Built to win big-time tournaments.
2. Henrik Stenson (16 under) -- It was fun to watch him chase Matsuyama on Sunday. I would basically want anyone else besides Stenson chasing me. The Swede cuts as terrifying a figure with a long iron as there is in golf. He closed with three birdies in his last five holes, but Matsuyama's lead was too much to overcome.
T3. Matt Kuchar (13 under) -- Mr. Reliability never shot par or worse but never shot better than 67. He was steady all week but just didn't have the firepower to keep up with Matsuyama and Stenson.
T3. Rickie Fowler (13 under) -- Fowler had a nice weekend of 68-69, and it was humorous to see where his mind was at on Saturday afternoon as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (Fowler's alma mater) played for the Big 12 title.
T3. Dustin Johnson (13 under) -- I thought D.J. might have a better week than he did. He absolutely engorged himself on the par 5s where he was 11 under on the week. He didn't do much on any of the other holes, though.
If you are unable to view the blog updates below, please click here.
Thanks for stopping by.