Walker, Matsuyama share lead at Tournament of Champions
Jan. 12, 2015
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama and Jimmy Walker made their moves on different parts of the Plantation Course on Sunday and wound up in the same spot — tied for the lead going into the final round of the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Matsuyama matched the best score of the week at Kapalua with a 7-under 66, making four birdies over the final six holes and ending another strong day with a delicate chip down the slope to a fast green to 2 feet on the par-5 18th.
Walker looked as if he might end this on Sunday. He made four birdies in a six-hole stretch to close out the front nine and had a two-shot lead heading to the back nine when he had to settle for pars. Walker two-putted for birdie from just off the green on the 18th for a 67.
Matsuyama and Walker were at 17-under 202.
They had a two-shot lead over Bae Sang-Moon (69) and Patrick Reed (68), who like Walker is looking for his fourth PGA Tour win in the last 17 months. Brendon Todd (69) and Russell Henley (70) were three shots back.
The first PGA Tour event of the new year doesn't have a cast of stars with Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer staying at home, though the co-leaders going into the Monday finish are examples of why it's getting tougher to win on the PGA Tour.
Matsuyama is the first rookie to win the Japan Golf Tour money list, played in the Masters twice as an amateur (both times making the cut) and had a breakthrough win last year at the Memorial. He is a strong player, with a pause at the top of his swing and plenty of power through impact.
Only three other players have won at Kapalua in their debut since this winners-only event moved to Kapalua in 1999. Matsuyama is not sure why he is playing so well, except for the scenery.
"I like the view and so I like the course," he said.
Walker is going for his fourth victory since his inaugural win at the Frys.com Open to start the 2013-14 season, and he was among the few bright spots in a U.S. loss at the Ryder Cup last September.
A victory would make him only the fifth player to win at both courses on the Hawaii swing. He won the Sony Open a year ago, part of a stretch in which he won three times in eight starts. He has experience, sure, along with some nerves.
"I'm sure I'm going to feel more comfortable, just being out here longer, more mature, more experienced, that type thing," he said. "I'll tell you I was nervous driving to the first tee on Friday for the first round and didn't eat all my breakfast this morning because I was pumped about the day."
The show doesn't belong entirely to them, of course.
Henley was among four players tied for the lead going into Sunday and played reasonably well except for a few mistakes. One was a chip on the reachable sixth hole, which moved about 5 feet and just onto the green, leaving a fast putt. He three-putted, turning birdie into bogey.
Defending champion Zach Johnson, also tied for the lead, took double bogey on the par-5 fifth hole and didn't have much go his way in a 73 that put him six back.