SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) The par-3 16th hole is the centerpiece of the golf extravaganza known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Unfortunately for the 20,000 fans who packed the rowdy stadium hole at TPC Scottsdale, the action was just getting started late Sunday afternoon when the final group moved on to the 17th tee.
That’s where Rickie Fowler self-destructed, first giving Hideki Matsuyama an unexpected chance in regulation, then handing the 23-year-old Japanese player the trophy on the fourth hole of a playoff.
”Rickie opened the door for me, and I was able to walk through it,” Matsuyama said through a translator.
Fowler blew a two-shot lead on the 317-yard 17th in regulation when his driver ran through the green and tumbled into the lake that wraps around the back and left side, with the ball traveling nearly 360 yards.
”I’m hitting a chip-cut driver,” Fowler said. ”Usually, don’t expect it to hit on the downslope and then go 360.”
Using a 3-wood on the hole in the playoff, he pulled his drive left into the water just short of the green.
”Hit it solid,” Fowler 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.”
Matsuyama birdied the hole in regulation to tie for the lead, chipping to 2 1/2 feet. On the fourth extra hole, he chipped to 6 feet and two-putted for the win after Fowler missed a 10-foot par putt.
”Surprised and sad that Rickie finished that way, but all I can do is my best,” Matsuyama said. ”I was lucky to come out on top.”
Fowler broke down in tears in the media center a few minutes later, overcome by emotion talking about his family.
”The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven’t seen me win,” Fowler said. ”But I will be able to kind of hang with them tonight. I’ll be all right.”
Fowler forced the playoff with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th after Matsuyama made an 18-footer. ”The putt I made there was probably the best putt I have ever made in my life,” Matsuyama said.
The playoff was just as dramatic.
On the par-4 10th on the third extra hole, Fowler saved par with a 12-foot putt after driving into the left rough and skulling his approach long and right. Matsuyama made a 5-footer to extend the playoff.
They played the 18th hole twice to open overtime. On the first extra hole, Fowler chipped to a foot to set up a par after leaving his wedge approach short and right. Matsuyama rolled his 25-foot putt inside a foot. On the second playoff hole, Matsuyama topped Fowler’s 15-foot birdie putt with one of his own.
”Maybe from the outside it looked calm, but I was nervous inside,” Matsuyama said.
The crowd of 65,330 pushed the week total to a record 618,365, shattering the mark of 564,368 set last year. The event broke its own single-day golf record Saturday at 201,003 after drawing 160,415 on Friday.
”It was a blast playing in front of all these people,” Matsuyama said. ”I’d say probably 99 percent were cheering hard for Rickie, but that gave me the motivation to go out and do it and win.”
Matsuyama and Fowler each shot 4-under 67 to finish at 14-under 270.
Matsuyama won the 2014 Memorial for his only other PGA Tour title, beating Kevin Na on the first extra hole. The Japanese player tied for second last year in Scottsdale, a stroke behind Brooks Koepka.
Fowler missed a chance for his fifth worldwide win in nine months. He started the run in May at The Players Championship, and won the Scottish Open the week before the British Open, the Deutsche Bank Championship in September and the European Tour event two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.
”This one hurts,” Fowler said. ”With how good I’m playing, I know I can win. That’s the hard part.”
Fowler chipped in from 50 feet for birdie on the par-4 10th to take the lead and added birdies on the par-5 13th and 15th holes to pull two shots ahead. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th.
Harris English shot a 66 to tie for third at 12 under.
Third-round leader Danny Lee had a 73 to drop to fourth at 11 under. He began the day three strokes ahead of playing partners Fowler and Matsuyama.
Phil Mickelson followed his third-round 65 with a 71 to tie for 11th at 8 under. The 45-year-old former Arizona State won the event in 1996, 2005 and 2013.