Hideki Matsuyama stood five shots in arrears of Russell Henley entering the final nine of the 2022 Sony Open in Hawaii, with analytics site Datagolf giving Henley a 96.9 percent chance to win. Matsuyama started the incoming nine birdie-birdie, caught Henley after a birdie on the par-5 18th and eventually took the title on the first hole of a playoff at Waialae Country Club with a dramatic walk-off eagle.
Some will point to Henley sputtering over the final nine, but Matsuyama kept chipping away at the lead, making a seven-footer on the 10th hole for birdie and then a 12-footer on the next hole, part of a two-shot swing after a Henley bogey to cut the deficit to two. An 18-footer from Matsuyama at the 15th kept the pressure on and a two-putt birdie from 53 feet (after a mammoth 309-metre tee shot with his Srixon ZX7 driver) tied things up when Henley’s birdie bid to win grazed the hole.
On the first hole of the playoff Matsuyama took his 15-degree TaylorMade SIM2 3-wood and hit the shot of the tournament, a slight cut that stopped about three feet from the hole. The ensuing eagle ended the playoff in short order.
Still, the champion’s work on the greens during the week cannot be overlooked. Matsuyama led the field in strokes gained/putting, picking up more than seven shots on the field. It marked only the second time in Matsuyama’s PGA Tour career that he had led in that stat for the week, and he gained 7.264 strokes on the greens for the week, the best total of his career. His putter is a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS blade. It is a model similar to what Matsuyama has used for most of his professional career.
The reigning Masters champion also uses Srixon’s Z-Star XV ball – a four-piece ball with a dual-core design that starts soft but gets decidedly firmer towards the perimeter to give higher swing speed players more potential for longer driving distance. A firm, highly responsive mantle layer also assists ball speed potential and high launch with low spin on the longest shots. While these traits appealed to Matsuyama, Cleveland/Srixon’s director of tour operations noted another trait Matsuyama liked about the ball. “Believe it or not, the sound of the ball,” Rodney McDonald told Golf Digest last year.
A win so early in 2022 probably sounds pretty good to Matsuyama, too.
The clubs Hideki Matsuyama used to win the 2022 Sony Open in Hawaii:
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV (Buy here at the Pro Shop )
Driver: Srixon ZX7 (Graphite Design DI8 TX), 9.5 degrees (Buy here)
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2, 15 degrees
5-wood: Cobra Radpseed, 17.5 degrees (Buy here)
Irons (4-9): Srixon Z Forged (Buy here); (PW): Cleveland RTX 4
Wedges: Cleveland RTX 4 Forged prototype (52, 56, 60 degrees) (Buy here)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS
PHOTO: Gregory Shamus