Lowry denied on greens as Matsuyama retains Phoenix Open after playoff

Lowry denied on greens as Matsuyama retains Phoenix Open after playoff
 Shane Lowry during the 2016 U.S. Open. Picture © USGA/Jeff Haynes

Shane Lowry during the 2016 U.S. Open. Picture © USGA/Jeff Haynes

Shane Lowry was left to lament an ice-cold putter in the desert as Hideki Matsuyama beat Webb Simpson with a birdie on the fourth extra hole to retain the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Lowry, 29, began the final day in a five-man tie for 12th that included Simpson, six shots behind South Korea's Byeong Hun An at 10-under par.

He would have needed Simpson's closing 64 to make the playoff on 17-under par, but he had to settle for a level par 71 featuring 34 putts and just three-single putt greens.

As a result, Lowry finished tied for 16th after an otherwise positive week from tee to green and picked up $90,953 to move to 98th in the FedEx Cup standings. 

He will still feel that's a poor return given how well he hit the ball.

Ranked fourth in strokes gained off the tee, third from tee to green and tied second for greens hit in regulation, he failed to do better because he ranked 70th for putting, missing four putts inside five feet and seven within seven feet.

In the final round, he started sluggishly with eight straight pars, then bogeyed the ninth, where he missed a six-footer for par after tugging his 150-yard approach left of the green.

He bounced back immediately, stitching a 98-yard fairway bunker shot to less than three feet at the 10th.

But the bogeyed the 12th by going long into sand and while he made comfortable, two-putt birdie fours at the 13th and 15th, he made a bogey at the 16th and then failed to get up and down for birdie from the front edge of the 344-yard 17th.

That's where Matsuyama won the tournament at the fourth sudden-death hole for the second year running.

The Japanese superstar closed with a five under 66 to tie with Simpson, who shot a 64 to set the target at 17-under par as overnight leader An slipped to sixth after a disappointing 73.

The 25-year old South Korean was three ahead with nine holes to play but hit just one fairway on the way home and bogeyed the 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th.

In the playoff, Simpson and Matsuyama parred the 18th twice and then parred the 10th before heading to the driveable 17th.

Simpson's tee shot ended up hole high right of the green, leaving him stymied by a bunker and unable to putt at the hole.

As Matsuyama chipped up to 12 feet, Simpson putted up to 18 feet and shaved the hole with his birdie try.

He then looked on as Matsuyama rolled in his birdie putt to win for the fifth time around the world in his last nine starts.

He remains No 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking and now has two PGA TOUR victories this season following his win at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China in October.

He now has four PGA Tour wins at the age of 24 years, 11 months, 11 days and becomes the seventh winner in his 20s on the US circuit this season.

Matsuyama’s PGA TOUR victories

  1. 2014 the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance (playoff over Kevin Na)
  2. 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open (playoff over Rickie Fowler)
  3. 2017 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
  4. 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open (playoff over Webb Simpson)

Matsuyama’s stats for the week

  • R1 – 10 of 14 fairways, 17 of 18 greens in regulation, 31 putts.
  • R2 – 8 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation, 30 putts.
  • R3 – 7 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens in regulation, 28 putts.
  • R4 – 12 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens in regulation, 29 putts.