CHIBA, Japan – Tiger Woods wants simply seven extra holes to match one of many PGA Tour’s most esteemed information.
However what appeared a straightforward stroll to his 82nd PGA Tour victory acquired at the least a bit extra attention-grabbing earlier than darkness set at Accordia Golf Narashino Nation Membership on Sunday, as Hideki Matsuyama birdied his last two holes earlier than play was halted on account of darkness.
Woods was main by 5 just some minutes earlier, however Matsuyama, put a little bit bit extra drama into the remaining holes of the Zozo Championship, the primary ever PGA Tour ever to be performed in Japan.
“I simply tried to extend it,” stated Woods, who performed 29 holes on Sunday. “I figured if I stayed the place I used to be at, I used to be not going to have the lead. I needed to make some birdies the golf course was tender, fairly benign. I felt like I needed to preserve making birdies, and for essentially the most half I did.”
Woods performed 11 holes of the fourth spherical earlier than darkness halted play. Hade made three birdies and a bogey to get to 18 beneath par after accomplished 54 holes at 16 beneath.
Matsuyama can be 2 beneath for his spherical by 13 holes. The Japanese star is the one participant within the discipline who can rival Woods’ reputation, and he’s doing his finest to make it attention-grabbing.
Gary Woodland and Sunjae Im are the following closest gamers and they’re six pictures again of Woods.
The winner of 81 PGA Tour occasions together with this yr’s Masters, Woods has by no means did not win when main by at the least three strokes heading into the ultimate spherical. He made six birdies and two bogeys through the third spherical. After a 45-minute break, he went again out for the beginning of the fourth.
He had simply chipped up shut for a par on the 11th gap when play was stopped. Matsuyama had simply birdied the 12th gap.
“Beginning off with the 12th gap is just not straightforward,” Woods stated. “One of many hardest par-4s on the golf course. It is 490 yards. It will be cool tomorrow morning so the opening goes to play actually lengthy. It is vital I get off to a great begin. It is exhausting pin. I’ve acquired to do my job beginning out.”
A victory could be the 82nd of his PGA Tour profession, tying him with Corridor of Famer Sam Snead, who was given credit score his record-setting whole on the 1965 Greensboro Open, when he additionally turned the oldest participant in PGA Tour to win at age 52.
Woods, 43, has some fairly good historical past on his aspect.
He has transformed a 54-hole lead 54 out of 58 occasions on the PGA Tour, together with 43 of 45 occasions when he was the outright chief. The one occasions he has did not observe by with a victory was on the 1996 Quad Cities Open and the 2009 PGA Championship. He has blown a 54-hole lead of greater than two strokes.
It nonetheless does not determine to be straightforward. Matsuyama, who has 5 PGA Tour victories and 12 in his native Japan, is a large determine in his personal nation and rivals Woods in reputation. He’s presently ranked 27th on the planet after getting as excessive as second two years in the past. He shot 65.
On account of Friday’s play being postponed on account of heavy rains, the match was striving to get in as many holes potential Sunday so a Monday end can finish within the morning. All of the gamers will return to their spot on the course and start play at 7:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m. ET Sunday).
That is Woods’ first PGA Tour begin of the 2019-20 season and his first occasion because the BMW Championship in August.