Matsuyama heartbroken after narrow miss for bronze

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Hideki Matsuyama regrets he could not win a medal for his country at Olympic men's golf competition, crashing out on the first playoff hole in the seven-way tussle for bronze. Photo: IGF/PGA Tour
Hideki Matsuyama regrets he could not win a medal for his country at Olympic men's golf competition, crashing out on the first playoff hole in the seven-way tussle for bronze. Photo: IGF/PGA Tour

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama was heart-broken after missing out on a medal for his country at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s golf competition on Sunday.

The reigning Masters champion agonisingly lost in a seven-way playoff for the bronze medal after an enthralling final day at Kasumigaseki Country Club. He had a birdie chance on the 18th hole during regulation play to secure a podium finish but made par instead for a closing 2-under-69 and 15-under 269 total.

He then made bogey on the first sudden-death hole to bow out of the competition, which concluded with the gold medal going to American Xander Schauffele who won on 18-under 266 while Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia earned silver after shooting a stunning Olympic record of 10-under 61 saw him finish one stroke back.

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Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan earned the bronze after a nerve-jangling playoff, making par at the fourth extra hole on the 18th against Collin Morikawa of the U.S. Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Chile’s Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz of Colombia and Great Britain’s Paul Casey were eliminated earlier after all seven players tied on 15-under.

“Since I was in contention, I was really hoping that I could win a medal. I’m really disappointed I wasn’t able to realize that,” said Matsuyama, who had entered the final round in second place and one off the lead.

“My goal was of course to win the gold. I needed to hole out the second shot on the 18th hole to beat Xander, which was a bit unrealistic. I knew if I had ended my round with birdie, I was going to get a bronze medal. I’m left with a frustration that I wasn’t able to convert the opportunities. I have no energy or endurance left at this point. But I kept fighting at the end with my heart. Unfortunately, I fell short at the end.”

Matsuyama, a six-time PGA Tour winner, traded five birdies against three bogeys and just could not make a putt when he needed it the most to keep in touch which overnight leader Schauffele, who closed with a 67 to win by one stroke.

Following his historic Masters Tournament triumph in April where he became the first Japanese male golfer to win a Major, an entire nation’s hopes was on Matsuyama’s shoulders for him to deliver a gold medal for the Olympics host nation.

“I was having some success on the greens until yesterday. As for today, I was reading them well but once my feel of putting started to go, my read started to wear off as well. I realize that’s something I need to work on moving forward. If I am able to do that, I know I can shoot low scores as I did on the second day. I will do my best to work on that going forward,” he said.

“I was not able to deliver the performance I was hoping for. At the same time, the positive is that I was able to contend. At one point of the round, there was a moment where I could potentially catch up and move past the leaders. But I just was not able to put it together at the end. There are somethings that I’ve identified that I need to work on, which I hope to work on moving forward.”

Text: IGF/PGA Tour