DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama earned his first victory in America and validation as one of golf's young stars Sunday with birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff and a 10-foot par putt on the first extra to win the Memorial.
In a tournament that Masters champions Bubba Watson and Adam Scott threw away on a wild back nine, Matsuyama looked certain to join them.
He lost the lead by dropping three shots on two holes, and he didn't look like a winner when he pushed his drive toward the bunkers on the final hole. Lightly slamming his driver to the turf in disgust, the head broke off. Matsuyama followed with an approach to just outside 5 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69.
That forced a playoff with Kevin Na, who finished his round of 64 about two hours earlier.
Matsuyama chose not to replace his broken driver in the playoff, and his 3-wood went into the bunker. Na drove left into the creek and still had about 10 feet for bogey on the 18th hole in the playoff when Matsuyama made his par putt.
The 22-year-old from Japan pumped his fist as the ball was a few inches from dropping.
"I'm really, really happy," Matsuyama said through his interpreter. "It's a dream come true to win at Mr. Nicklaus' course."
Matsuyama won for the sixth time in his career, the previous five on the Japan Golf Tour. He had a pair of top 10s in the majors last year.
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus greeted him behind the 18th green. Nicklaus spent much of the back nine in the broadcast booth, and it was a brand of golf that was unfamiliar to golf's greatest champion. The Memorial became only the latest event where proven players faltered badly.
Watson, who started the final round with a one-shot lead, was still in control until a couple of wild tee shots — one into deep rough on the 14th that led to bogey, and one so far right on the par-5 15th that it went over the trees and into a neighborhood, far out-of-bounds. That led to double bogey and he never recovered. Watson closed with a 72 and finished one shot out of the playoff.
"It's tough," Watson said, who was going for his third win of the year. "I made one bad decision. If I hit 4-wood off the tee instead of driver on the par 5, we make 5 and we win by one. But I made double, so we lost by one."