DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama made two huge mistakes coming down the stretch — and still walked away with a smile.
Matsuyama muscled his way into a playoff with a clutch birdie on the 18th hole, then beat Kevin Na with a par on the first playoff hole to win the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.
It was a victory that could mark the 22-year-old from Ehime, Japan, as the next big thing in international golf. He won in the elite event hosted and founded by Jack Nicklaus and played on his Muirfield Village layout. Nicklaus was also 22 when he broke through as a pro.
"To win my first PGA Tour event is enough, but to win it here at Mr. Nicklaus' course, it really gives me a lot of confidence going (forward)," Matsuyama said through an interpreter. "Hopefully I'll be able to use this week as a steppingstone to further my career."
High drama unfolded over the last five holes with Bubba Watson, who won the Masters in April and should be among the favorites at the U.S. Open in 10 days, ahead of the pack.
Adam Scott, who won the Masters in 2013, was tied with Watson for the lead before hitting into the pond in front of the signature, par-3 12th, making double bogey. He made three more bogeys, costing him a follow-up to his win last week at Colonial.
Watson hit two wayward drives — one at the par-4 14th and another at the reachable par-5 15th — that turned the tournament into a free-for-all. The first resulted in a bogey that dropped him into a tie for the lead.
The second all but doomed his chances.
"(It was a) bad decision, trying to be a hero," he said of his hooked rocket that ended up in the backyard of a million-dollar home that backs up to the course.
The double bogey dropped him a shot behind Na, who had completed the day's low round — an 8-under 64 — about two hours earlier. Na had been relaxing in the clubhouse, two shots out of the lead and behind some of the biggest stars in the game.
Watson's double opened the door for Matsuyama, who led Na by two strokes as he stepped to the 16th tee, a 201-yard par-3 with a narrow green on the other side of a large lake.
"I knew the wind was coming from the right," Matsuyama said. "I just hit a bad shot."