Matsuyama first Asian-born to win WGC event

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Hideki Matsuyama became the first Asian to win a World Golf Championship event when he cruised to a seven-shot win at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Matsuyama began the final round at Sheshan International with a three-shot lead, but he grew that advantage with three birdies over his first seven holes to essentially put the trophy on ice. It was a result that was rarely in doubt after the 24-year-old racked up 19 birdies over the first two rounds.

The win also continues a torrid recent stretch for Matsuyama, who won the Japan Open before a runner-up finish last week at the CIMB Classic.

“I really don’t know why I played well this week,” Matsuyama said. “I really didn’t make any changes to my golf swing or anything. But I have putted really well these last three weeks, and that’s probably the difference. I did play well today, I hit the ball a lot better. But putting was the difference this week.”

WGC-HSBC Champions: Articles, photos and videos

Matsuyama won earlier this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he has now won a PGA Tour event each of the last three seasons. His trio of victories also ties Shigeki Maruyama for most Tour wins by a Japanese player.

“Shigeki Maruyama is a good friend of mine, and he always said that I was going to pass his records,” Matsuyama said. “But at least I’ve tied him now. That was a great honor, because I have great respect for him.”

The victory is the biggest of Matsuyama’s burgeoning career, and it will vault him to a new career high inside the top 10 in the world when the latest rankings are released. While he plans to enjoy his latest triumph, he’s already focused on the next logical piece to the puzzle.

“Winning today, I feel it has got me closer to being able to compete a lot better in major tournaments, and so my next goal of course is to win a major,” he said. “I’m going to do all that I can to prepare well for that.”

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