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MATSUYAMA SURVIVES FOUR-HOLE PLAYOFF AGAINST FOWLER

The World No. 4 was visibly emotional following his loss at TPC Scottsdale

Eyes red, a crack in his voice, tears. Rickie Fowler has never been so publicly overcome with emotion.

“I mean, the hard part is having, you know, all my friends and family and grandpa who haven’t seen me win,” he said, barely able to spit the words out before lowering his head into his hands. “But I will be able to hang with them tonight.”

He’ll need them after a stunning playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Leading by two with two holes to play, Fowler hit driver on the reachable par-4 17th. He hit it too good - 358 yards - and the ball ran through the green and into the water.

“Usually don’t expect it to hit on the downslope and then go 360,” he said. Fowler made bogey, Matsuyama birdie and the two were tied going to the par-4 18th. Matsuyama putted first, drilling a 15-footer for birdie to put the pressure on Fowler, who answered by pouring in a 9 1/2-footer of his own to send the tournament into overtime.

Back they went to 18, both making par. Again 18, this time each with birdie before heading to the par-4 10th, where both made par to again extend the playoff. 

Twice along the way, Fowler had gotten up-and-down from tough spots, but then came 17 again.

Through the years, the 332-yard hole has been his kryptonite. Eight times previously, including a little more than an hour earlier, Fowler had found the water there.

This time, he opted for 3-wood. It didn’t matter.

Fowler pulled it left and knew he was in trouble before the ball even landed.

“Hit it solid,” he said. “Just hit it a little high on the face and it just got up and left a little quicker than I was expecting and wanted to.”

He took a drop and chipped to 9 feet but missed the putt for par. Matsuyama, meanwhile, had split the fairway and took two putts for the win.

“At 18, the 72nd hole, the putt I made there was probably the best putt I have ever made in my life,” said the 23-year-old Japanese star, who shot 67 and got his second career victory on the PGA TOUR and first in two years.

 “It’s gonna hurt,” said Fowler, who also shot 67, “because I felt like I had it, especially with the way I was swinging.”

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