Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (Getty Images)

Hideki Matsuyama enjoyed the perfect Masters Tournament preparation by finishing tied second at the Vivint Houston Open on Sunday, thanks to a sizzling 7-under 63 in the final round.

The 28-year-old Japanese star enjoyed his first top-10 of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season courtesy of seven birdies at the Memorial Park Golf Course to finish two shots behind Carlos Ortiz, who became only the third Mexican winner on TOUR. Ortiz shot a final round 65 for a 13-under 267 winning aggregate.

Reigning FedExCup champion and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, playing in his first tournament back after testing positive for COVID-19 last month, finished tied second alongside Matsuyama after a 65, highlighted by six birdies.

Matsuyama brilliantly shot up the leaderboard with the day’s joint low round and made birdies on Hole Nos. 3, 6, 8, 12, 13, 16 and 17, with the final two gains being conversions from 14 feet and 16 feet respectively. He made 21 birdies through four rounds, ranking first in the category.

He will now head to his ninth Masters appearance with his confidence soaring as he chases a first major victory. “My good finish over the weekend is going to really hopefully help me in the Masters this coming week,” said Matsuyama, who moved up to 15th place on the latest FedExCup standings.

Matsuyama has an excellent track record at the Masters where he finished fifth and tied seventh in 2015 and 2016, and was inside the top-20 in 2017 and 2018. He made his debut in 2011 as the reigning Asia Pacific Amateur Championship winner and finished a creditable tied 27th.

No Asian has won the coveted Green Jacket which is awarded to the Masters champion, with Korea’s K.J. Choi coming closest following a memorable third place outing in 2004.

Matsuyama is excited his game is trending upwards as his final round in Houston was near perfect as he hit 17 greens in regulation with some crisp iron play. While Memorial Park bears little semblance to Augusta National, the Japanese ace knows his strong finish will provide him with the spark needed to challenge for victory at the Masters.

“You know, my game is getting better and it’s definitely going to give me a lot of confidence going forward,” said the five-time PGA TOUR winner. “It was a tough course, long, and greens were tough, so it was really tough to get around. But I was able to play well and so I had a great experience here.”

Final-Round Notes – Sunday, November 8, 2020

Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind ESE 6-12 mph.

Final-Round Leaderboard

Carlos Ortiz                        67-68-67-65—267 (-13)

Hideki Matsuyama            70-70-66-63—269 (-11)
Dustin Johnson                  72-66-66-65—269 (-11)

Talor Gooch                       68-69-71-63—271 (-9)

Brooks Koepka                   72-70-65-65—272 (-8)

Sepp Straka                        68-69-66-69—272 (-8)


Things to Know

  • Carlos Ortiz wins for the first time on the PGA TOUR, becoming the third player from Mexico to win TOUR
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finishes T2 in his second start of the season (T6/U.S. Open); has finished first or second in five of his last six starts on TOUR
  • Memorial Park player consultant Brooks Koepka finishes T5 after consecutive 65s in the third and final rounds
  • Mackenzie Hughes, Talor Gooch, Hideki Matsuyama set course record with final-round 63s
  • Three players earn second consecutive top-fives at Vivint Houston Open (Carlos Ortiz, Talor Gooch, Sepp Straka)
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