With much of the continental United States experiencing its normal dose of January frigid temperatures and freezing precipitation, the PGA Tour was basking in the sunshine and warmth of Hawaii, where Hideki Matsuyama erased a five shot deficit entering the back nine to defeat Russell Henley on the first hole of sudden death to win the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The Masters Tournament champion from Japan made a birdie on the 18th hole of regulation to force the playoff, then knocked a three wood from 277 yards to within three feet of the hole and made his eagle putt for his eighth PGA Tour win.
Henley appeared to be in total control of the tournament after shooting a six under par score of 29 on the front nine, following three birdies and an eagle to close out the side. The three-time winner on Tour, with the first one coming in this event in 2013, had led after each of the first three rounds and seemed poised to cruise to his fourth victory, but struggled coming home and opened the door to Matsuyama with a bogey on the par three 11th hole on his way to a back nine 36, where he failed to make a birdie.
Matsuyama shot a final round 63, matching his third round score, to equal Henley at 23 under par 257 following 72 holes of regulation. The 29-year-old picked up $1.35 million for the win, and with the 500 points he earned, Matsuyama took over the lead in the FedEx Cup standings following his second victory of the 2021-2022 wraparound PGA Tour season.
Betting Favorites Results
The ZOZO Championship winner from October was among the betting favorites coming into the week, with Matsuyama at futures odds of +1700 to win the Sony Open in Hawaii. The overwhelming leader in the odds entering the tournament was the Sentry Tournament of Champions winner Cameron Smith, who came over from Maui with odds of +850.
Smith opened with a three under par 67 and seemed on track to contend, but a disastrous one over par 71 in round two that included a double bogey on the par four 16th hole doomed him to missed cut, three shots out of playing for the weekend.
Behind Smith in the futures odds was Webb Simpson at +1500, who made the cut on the five under par number but failed to make a move on the weekend, shooting even par over his final two rounds to finish in a tie for 61st.
Sungjae Im, the Tour ironman, was tied with Matsuyama at +1700, but he also failed to qualify for the final two rounds after failing to recover from an opening 71. Defending champion Kevin Na opened the tournament with a nine under par 61, but after a second round 71, he ended up fading to a tie for 20th after teeing off with odds of +2900 on Thursday.
The story of the tournament, other than Matsuyama’s amazing three wood in the playoff, was the performance of his countryman Keita Nakajima, the top amateur in the world who fired rounds of 67 and 64 to find himself in contention, but a third round 72 relegated him to a 41st place finish at odds of +16000.