The Punter's De-brief: Magnificent Matsuyama wins by three

Golfer Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama celebrating at Riviera

Hideki Matsuyama has won the Genesis Invitational in impressive fashion and our man's back to look back on his victory here...

  • Matsuyama flies home for ninth PGA Tour title

  • Read my Kenya Open preview here

  • Read my Mexico Open preview here

  • Having led the Genesis Invitational after round one and by five strokes at halfway and having been matched at a low of just 1.511/2 after he'd birdied his opening hole on Saturday, pre-event 23.022/1 chance, Patrick Cantlay, finished round three with his lead reduced to just two.

    His pedestrian one-under-par 70 on Saturday had opened the door for the field and playing alongside his good friend, Xander Schauffele, on Sunday, Cantlay failed to birdie the easy par five first and before he'd finished playing the second hole he'd already been caught.

    Luke List, who began the final round trailing by three, eagled the first and birdied the third to draw alongside the long-time leader and he moved clear with a birdie three at the fifth.

    Odds-on List led by two

    With the final pairing struggling, List was matched at 1.654/6 when he eased two clear with yet another birdie at the seventh but that was as good as it got for the 39-year-old who was looking to win for third time in three years.

    Having threatened to run away from the rest, List bogeyed the 10th and the 12th and suddenly, we had a five-way tie at the top between, Cantlay, Schauffele, Zalatoris, List and the charging Hideki Matsuyama.

    Trading at around 170.0169/1, the Japanese star had begun the final round trailing Cantlay by six and despite birdies at the first three holes, he'd made the turn trailing List by five but with everyone else treading water, he was the man with momentum after birdies at 10, 11 and 12.

    With Cantlay and Schauffele dragging each other down, Zalatoris edged back in front with a birdie at the 13th but he didn't lead for long, after Matsuyama hit this impeccable approach to the tough par four 15th.

    Matsuyama followed the tap in three at 15 with a tap in two at the par three 16th and he put the event to bed with yet another birdie at the par five 17th.

    A par at the last saw him post a nine-under-par 62 total and an incredible six-under-par 30 on what is a ridiculously tough back-nine.

    Having gone off at 110.0109/1, Matsuyama was matched at a high of 640.0639/1 in-running but he went on to win by three strokes.

    Yet Another Longshot Winner on the PGA Tour

    It's been a tough year for punters in the States so far. The Genesis Invitational was the seventh PGA Tour event in 2024 and all seven have been won by someone trading at a triple-figure price before the off but Matsuyama will feel like one that got away for many (myself included).

    Having backed him before the off in 2022 at 28/129.00 and again last year at 70.069/1, he was certainly on my radar and mainly because he's a winner of the US Masters.

    Incredibly, Matsuyama is the fifth player in the last 12 years to win both the Genesis Invitational and the US Masters and following his success on Sunday, as many as 14 different US Masters winners have won 24 of the 61 renewals of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

    Matsuyama also boosted the strong link between Riviera and Quail Hollow. Although he's yet to win at Quail, he traded at odds-on during round four of the US PGA Championship there in 2017 and this wasn't his first strong finish at Riviera either.

    He missed the cut there 12 months ago, he finished only 39th two years ago and he also missed the cut in 2021 but prior to that he had a great bank of course form reading 23-4-11-MC-9-5.

    Matsuyama really is a class act when he's in form and this was the fifth time that he'd won a PGA Tour by at least three strokes. He won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the ZOZO Championship by five strokes and he's twice romped home by seven strokes. He won the Taiheiyo Masters on the Japan Tour by seven in 2016, two weeks after he'd won the WGC HSBC Champions by the same margin.

    He's one to bear in mind when trailing with a round to go as this wasn't the first time that he'd gone super low on a Sunday. He was beaten by Abraham Ancer in extra time at the WGC FedEx St Jude two years ago having trailed by nine with a round to go!

    Masters Money for Matsuyama

    Matsuyama's price to win the US Masters in April has halved form a high of 60.059/1 to 30.029/1 but that doesn't look too short if he can hold his form.

    Yesterday's 62 was 8 ½ strokes better than the scoring average of 70.5 and I doubt we'll ever witness another 30 on the back-nine at Riviera on a Sunday. It's one of the best rounds I've ever seen.

    Scottie Scheffler is clinging on to favouritism for the year's first major after his tied 10th at Riviera but his putting woes are now a huge concern. He continues to play magnificently from tee-to-green week after week but he ranked 51st of 51 for Strokes Gained: Putting.

    The DP World Tour returns this week with the Kenya Open and the PGA Tour moves south for the Mexico Open, where Tony Finau is a warm favourite to defend his title in what is a decidedly weak field. Both previews are linked below.

    Read my Kenya Open preview here

    Read my Mexico Open preview here

    *You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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