Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Japanese ace Hideki Matsuyama secured his third top-10 finish at the U.S. Open on Sunday and ninth overall in the majors to cement his status as one of the world’s best golfers.

The 30-year-old, who won the 2021 Masters Tournament to become Japan’s first male major winner, saved his best for last when he fired the week’s lowest round of 5-under 65 at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts to end the US$12.5 million showpiece in a brilliant solo fourth. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (68) claimed his first major win following a pulsating one-stroke victory over Will Zalatoris (69) and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (67) of the U.S.

Matsuyama, ranked No. 13 in the world, rode a hot putter to chalk up five birdies against no bogeys to soar up the leaderboard and ended his week on 3-under 277, finishing three behind winner Fitzpatrick.

He was particularly pleased to maintain his fine record at the U.S. Open where his two previous top-10 outings were achieved in 2013 (T10) and 2017 (T2). He only missed one cut and finished no worse than a T35 in all his of last nine appearances.

The strong finish at The Country Club, which also marked his sixth top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR this season that includes two wins, propelled him to fifth position on the latest FedExCup points list.

“I don’t feel like this is my 100 percent performance, but it does give me a lot of boost in my confidence. So, I’ll try my best, try to connect this momentum to my next game, and I’ll be prepared for it,” said Matsuyama, whose 65 also tied his low score at the 2017 U.S Open.

The highlight of his day was a birdie from 39 feet at the par-4 13th hole. The splendid effort came right after he drained a brilliant 28-footer at the par-4 12th. The eight-time PGA TOUR winner collected three other birdies from Hole Nos. 6, 7 and 16. “I feel like my putting helped me a lot. I was stroking the ball really well, rolling the ball really good. I think that really helped my game today,” said Matsuyama, who registered a T14 for his Masters title defence in April.

“My shots were pretty decent too. I was able to target most of the greens. I wasn’t able to hit make birdies yesterday but I was able to get it today. So, I’m really happy with the round today.”

Matsuyama was quick to downplay the significance of his Masters victory last year and admitted consistency is one area he must work on if he is to become a major champion again.

“To be honest, I’m not really thinking about that. I’m just trying to play my best game always. So just keep on grinding and trying my best,” he said.

“If I can be a little bit greedy, I feel like, if I can play a little bit better on the first, second, and third day, that’s one of the things I’m working on, trying to be consistent for four days.”

Fitzpatrick shot a second successive 68 to win the U.S. Open, which is also his first PGA TOUR title, by one stroke from world No. 1 Scheffler and Zalatoris. 

“Unbelievable. Yeah, it’s just — the feeling’s out of this world. It is so cliche, but it’s stuff you dream of as a kid. Yeah, to achieve it, I can retire a happy man tomorrow,” said Fitzpatrick, who had won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in 2013.

Korea’s Joohyung Kim finished 23rd after closing with a 70 while K.H. Lee settled for T37 after a 71.

Final-Round Notes – Sunday, June 19, 2022

Weather: Mostly cloudy. High of 64. Wind NW 7-14 mph, with gusts to 21 mph.

Final Leaderboard                 

Matt Fitzpatrick                      68-70-68-68—274 (-6)

Scottie Scheffler                    70-67-71-67—275 (-5)

Will Zalatoris                          69-70-67-69—275 (-5)

Hideki Matsuyama                70-70-72-65—277 (-3)

Collin Morikawa                    69-66-77-66—278 (-2)

Rory McIlroy                         67-69-73-69—278 (-2)

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