By Jay Betsill
22-year-old Hideki Matsuyama captured his first PGA Tour win at the prestigious Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in a playoff over Kevin Na.
“To win my first PGA Tour event is enough,” Matsuyama said. “But to win it here at Mr. Nicklaus’ course, it really gives me a lot of confidence now going on. And hopefully, I’ll be able to use this week as a stepping-stone to further my career.”
In reaching the playoff in one of the tour’s marquee events, Matsuyama outlasted Masters champion Bubba Watson and last week’s champion at Colonial, the No. 1 player in the world Adam Scott. Meanwhile, Na fired a 64 to finish as the leader in the clubhouse at -13 and waited around to watch the field come back to him due to a lot of sloppy play on the back nine.
“The whole thing is frustrating as I stand here right now,” Scott said. “But everyone is going to feel like that. We all could have done something different. If we all did, who knows what the result would be?”
Watson was attempting to win his third event of the season to go along with the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and the Masters. By finishing in third place, Watson moved ahead of Tiger Woods to No. 3 in the world.
“I just think you’ve just seen the start of what’s going to be truly one of your world’s great players over the next 10 to 15 years,” said tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
Notables included Steve Stricker (T6, -9), Byron Nelson champion Brendon Todd (T8, -8), Rory McIlroy (T15, -6), Jason Dufner (T19, -5), Ernie Els (T19, -5), Jordan Spieth (T19, -5) and Phil Mickelson (T49, -1).
Up next on the PGA Tour is the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the TPC Southwind in Memphis. Notables in the field include Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, John Daly, David Duval, Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Rickie Fowler.
— Two separate reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times revealed on Friday that Phil Mickelson was a subject of an investigation by the FBI and SEC involving possible insider trading. Following his third round at the Memorial, Mickelson maintained his innocence to the media.
“I can’t really go into much right now, but as I said in my statement, I have done absolutely nothing wrong. And that’s why I’ve been fully cooperating with the FBI agents, and I’m happy to do so in the future, too, until this gets resolved,” the 42-time PGA Tour winner said. “Hopefully it will be soon, but for right now I can’t really talk much about it.”
— 1997 British Open champion Justin Leonard qualified for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst June 12-15. Leonard was among the 16 players at the Columbus site who qualified. It will be his first trip to the U.S. Open after three years of failing to qualify.
“It’ll be fun,” said Leonard, who’ll turn 42 on the day of the Open’s final round. “And Pinehurst is one of my favorites, so a little extra incentive there.”