AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama turned in his best round yet at the Masters and his fifth-place finish has him setting his sights even higher at Augusta National.
“I would really like to become a Masters champion one day,” Matsuyama said Sunday.
In his fourth Masters, Matsuayama matched the world’s No. 1 player, Rory McIlroy, with the low final round. Four birdies and an eagle helped the Japanese player shoot a 6-under-par 66 for the fourth round and 277 total.
Not bad for someone who just turned 23 in February. But then, Matsuyama quickly is putting together quite a career.
He was the first rookie to win the Japan Golf Tour money list. He already has seven worldwide wins, including one as an amateur in Japan, and winning Memorial last year put him face-to-face with Jack Nicklaus. He came into Augusta National ranked 17th — one of seven men under the age of 27 among the world’s top 20 players.
Matsuyama missed the cut here last year in his first time in the Masters as a professional. As an amateur, he was the first to make the cut in consecutive years since Manny Zerman in 1991 and 1992.
He started Sunday at 5 under, 11 strokes back of leader Jordan Spieth, and just worked his way up the leaderboard with good iron play. He stuck shots within 4 feet on the par-5 8th and the par-4 10th. He rolled in from 29 feet on No. 11 for his third birdie in four holes. Despite hitting his drive into the pine straw right of the fairway, he still managed to eagle the par-5 No. 13.
“I had 211 to the pin, and I cut a 5-iron in there,” Matsuyama said. “It was probably a 10-footer, 11-footer. And I was able to make it.”
That put him at 10 under, and he finished up with an 11-footer for birdie on 18, a stroke back of McIlroy and with all four rounds this week under par.
“I really played well this week, and I’m happy with the way I played and so I have no complaints,” Matsuyama said.
Well, maybe one now that the Masters has become his fourth finish in the top five this calendar year.
“With that said, I have a lot of work left to do still,” Matsuyama said.
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