December 4, 2016 / 9:52 PM / in a year

Golf: Matsuyama wins fourth tournament in five starts

(Reuters) - Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the hottest player in world golf over the past two months, survived a shaky back nine to clinch his fourth win in five starts with a two-stroke victory at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Sunday.

File Photo - Jul 31, 2016; Springfield, NJ, USA; Hideki Matsuyama watches his tee shot on the second hole during the Sunday round of the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC - Lower Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

While tournament host Tiger Woods delivered the good, bad and ugly as he finished 14 shots back in his much anticipated return to competition, Matsuyama ended a dominant week with his worst round, a one-over 73 at the Albany course on the island of New Providence.

The 24-year-old Japanese, seven strokes ahead overnight in the 18-man event, birdied two of the first nine holes, then shrugged off a double at the 10th and a bogey at the 14th as he posted an 18-under total in blustery conditions.

“I have played very, very well until today,” world number six Matsuyama, speaking through an interpreter, told Golf Channel about his sizzling run that included a maiden World Golf Championships title in Shanghai in October.

“Today I struggled a bit.”

British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden eagled the par-five ninth on the way to a 68 and second place, three ahead of Americans Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar.

Woods, back in action after being sidelined nearly 16 months due to back-related issues, endured a roller-coaster ride that included five birdies and three double-bogeys as he closed with a 76 for 15th place at four-under.

”I think it was a great week, to be back playing again and competing, playing against the best players in the world,“ said Woods. ”Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes this week, made a lot of birdies but a lot of mistakes.

“I made some poor decisions, missed the ball in the wrong spots and quite frankly it feels a little weird not to play in a cart,” said Woods.

“So it’s a little different and I am getting used to that, getting my legs back and getting my body back, focusing for a long period of time. And these are all things that I have missed for about a year and a half.”

After making strong starts in each of the first three rounds, Woods struggled early on Sunday with a bogey at the fifth and a double-bogey at the next.

Though he thrilled fans with a run of three birdies from the seventh, he limped over the next three holes, going bogey, double-bogey, bogey to tumble back down.

“I was playing aggressive, this golf course allows one to be aggressive, but also I made some bad mistakes,” said Woods, who will turn 41 later this month.

“Three doubles today just adds up to a pretty high number. But on the flip side, I was able to be aggressive and make some birdies, make some putts and I just need to balance it out.”

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Larry Fine

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