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Golf: Matsuyama finishes fifth at Masters for best Major finish

Hideki Matsuyama, 23, carded a joint low round of 66 on Sunday to finish fifth at the Masters. Photo: AFP.

Hideki Matsuyama, 23, carded a joint low round of 66 on Sunday to finish fifth at the Masters. Photo: AFP.

April 13, 2015: While 21-year-old Jordan Spieth stole the headlines with a wire-to-wire win at the Masters Tournament, 23-year-old Hideki Matsuyama of Japan shot Sunday’s joint low round of 66 to finish as the top Asian in fifth place and record his best finish in a Major.

 

Matsuyama – who missed the cut at last year’s Masters – birdied 18 to post an 11-under-par total of 277 and record the best finish at Augusta National by a Japanese since Toshimitsu Izawa tied for fourth in 2001. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy also birdied the last hole to match Matsuyama’s 66 and finish one shot ahead of the Japanese.

 

Matsuyama’s 31 on the back nine helped him finish one behind McIlroy and three behind joint runners-up Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose in a heavyweight leaderboard. Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey shared sixth place on nine-under.

 

It also helped Matsuyama better his sixth-place finish at The Open Championship in 2013, a month after he tied for 10th at the US Open. The Japan No. 1 also finished joint 19th at the PGA Championship that year before underwhelming in last year’s Majors, with a best finish of 35th in both the US Open and PGA Championship.

 

Matsuyama joined the PGA Tour full time last year after six wins in Japan, recording his first victory in the US at the Memorial Tournament in June. However, he had made his Masters debut in 2011, finishing as low amateur in 27th place, having earned his place by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

 

Bae Sang-moon, 28, was the second-best Asian finisher in the year’s first Major after the two-time PGA Tour winner closed with a 71 to finish even-par, one ahead of fellow Korean Noh Seung-yul, 23, who carded a 73.

 

India No. 1 Anirban Lahiri, 27, rounded off an impressive Masters debut by carding a 72 to finish four-over, following earlier rounds of 71, 75 and 72.

 

Thongchai Jaidee was among five Asians to make the cut, but the 45-year-old Thai was let down by a third-round 80 and eventually finished nine-over after a 72 on Sunday in his fourth appearance at Augusta.

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