Matsuyama fires 61 for five-shot win at Bridgestone

Hideki Matsuyama fired a sensational final round of 61 at the Firestone Country Club on Sunday to tie the course record and win the Bridgestone International.

The Japanese star’s superb round saw him capture the title by five shots from overnight co-leader Zach Johnson and earn his second big win in a World Golf Championship after a seven-shot victory in Shanghai last year.

Matsuyama finished with three straight birdies to record the lowest final round at Firestone in four decades and finish at 16-under par.

The win also moved the 25-year old back to the top of the FedExCup standings and sets him up nicely for the final major of the year later this week.

Matsuyama was fully aware of the course record after playing in the same group as Tiger Woods when he shot 61 back in 2013.

“I knew 61 was the number,” Matsuyama said via an interpreter. “I was thinking about that at 16. I knew if I birdied 16, 17, 18 I could get there.”

And he did.

It was Matsuyama’s third victory on the PGA tour this season, tying him with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.

Matsuyama now takes the momentum into the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow as he bids to become the first Japanese golfer to win a major.

“I hope their expectations aren’t too high,” Matsuyama said. “But my expectations really at the beginning of this week weren’t that high, either, and here we are.”

“I haven’t really played well at Quail Hollow, but hopefully I can keep my game up and do well there,” Matsuyama said. “All I can do is my best. I know a lot of us have tried from Japan to win majors. Hopefully, some day it will happen.”

Second-placed Johnson was within one shot just after the turn, but could only make pars as he shot a 68, while co-leader Thomas Pieters was never in contention after bogeys on the eighth and ninth as he shot a 71 to finish fourth on eight under.

Charley Hoffman hit a 66 to grab third place on 10-under par.

Rory McIlroy (69), Paul Casey (67), Russell Knox (68) and Canada’s Adam Hadwin (69) tied for fifth one shot further back.

Jordan Spieth, who will be going for a career grand slam this weekend finished tied for 13th place on four under.