FILE PHOTO: Oct 14, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Hideki Matsuyama tees off on the third during the first round of the CJ Cup golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
October 23, 2021
(Reuters) -Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama maintained his single-shot advantage at the top of the Zozo Championship leaderboard at the end of the third round on Saturday.
The 29-year-old hit a second consecutive two-under-par round to move to 10-under and retain his one-shot lead over American Cameron Tringale ahead of Sunday’s final around at the Narashino Country Club in Chiba.
Matsuyama led Tringale by a single shot going into the third round to follow up an impressive opening day score of six-under-par with a 68 and looked set for a greater advantage ahead of the final hole.
After a par at the first, the Japanese golfer drained a putt from 10 feet to claim his first birdie of the round at the second, but gave the shot back when he put his tee shot in the water at the fifth.
Matsuyama recovered at the next, however, when he claimed his second birdie, having trickled his ball up to the cup with a delicate pitch from the edge of the green.
Another birdie followed at the ninth before he rolled in a downhill putt at the 16th to open up a three-shot lead after Tringale had left his own birdie attempt just short.
But a wayward tee shot at the 18th resulted in Matsuyama bogeying the final hole of the round and seeing his lead trimmed to a single shot again as Tringale birdied from close range.
“It was really tricky out there with the wind,” Tringale told reporters, adding the fast greens did not help as well.
“So two-under is a pretty good score. Just got to move on when you get a tough gust and I was able to do that, so pleased with the day.”
Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz missed out on the opportunity to move into third place on his own when he missed a makeable birdie putt at the 18th to sit on six-under-par after a two-under-par round of 68.
He shares third place with Brendan Steele of the United States and England’s Matt Wallace, who both had even-par rounds for the day.
“The wind got really nasty out there and this course is so narrow that you really have to be hitting good shots or you’re struggling all day,” Steele added.
“It was a grind for me, really hard, but I hung in there.”
This year’s Zozo Championship is the third in the competition’s history and sees the tournament returning to Japan after being held in California last year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by William Mallard and Kim Coghill)