Asia’s influence on professional golf is growing by leaps and bounds, as the results of last week’s two biggest tournaments underscore.
In Ohio, Hideki Matsuyama stormed from behind to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, lighting up the Sunday leaderboard with a course-record-tying 9-under 61 on the once-fearsome South Course at Firestone Country Club. The 25-year-old Japanese player arrived in Akron ranked third in the world and left with his third PGA Tour victory of the season and fifth overall. Two of those titles have been World Golf Championships, the latest of which featured 49 of the world’s top 50 players.
Over the last 10 months, Matsuyama has won six times worldwide and finished joint second at the U.S. Open. He’s as good a bet as anyone to win the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, which tees off Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
Were he to prevail at Quail Hollow, Matsuyama would become Japan’s first male major winner, an achievement that would make him bigger than Jumbo Ozaki in his homeland.
Meanwhile in St Andrews, In-Kyung Kim won the Ricoh Women’s British Open, conquering the notorious Scottish elements and burying the memory of the 1-foot miss that cost her the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship. The victory at Kingsbarns was the third LPGA triumph of the season for the 29-year-old Korean, who entered the final round with a six-stroke lead before cruising home in 71.
Kim is the third native of South Korea, after So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park, to win a women’s major this season while the fourth major winner, Danielle Kang, is an American of Korean descent.
Talk about dominance.