SCOTTDALE, Arizona, Feb. 4, Kyodo
World No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama shot a 3-under-par 68 but dropped four strokes behind the leader on Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Matsuyama, the tournament’s defending champion, had a rough third round, carding six birdies and three bogeys to finish the day in a four-way tie for third at the Tournament Players Club. An Byeong Hun of South Korea had a 65 and leads with a third-round total of 197, a stroke ahead of Scotland’s Martin Laird.
It was a case of stop and start for Matsuyama after opening the day with a bogey. He had four birdies over the next five holes but bogeyed No. 9, and his back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 were followed by a bogey on the 17th.
“My irons got a lot better but my tee shots, putts and approach shots all dragged me back. I have to do something about my putts,” he said.
Matsuyama’s highlight of the day came on No. 16, when his wedge tee shot landed 16 inches from the pin to draw a cheer from the packed crowd. A year ago, Matsuyama won here in a playoff after starting the final round three strokes behind.
“I’m in a position where I have to deliver on the final day to win it,” he said. “I believe there’s a chance if I don’t make mistakes.”