He couldn’t see it.
But boy, could he hear it.
The sun was setting on Sunday in Honolulu, and when Hideki Matsuyama hit his fairway metal on the 18th hole at Waialae Country Club, despite a white hat and tinted sunglasses, he was blinded. And then it was deafening.
On the first playoff hole at the Sony Open, from 277 yards out with his second shot on the par-5, Matsuyama landed his ball to within about 10 feet, it skipped a couple times and finished 2 feet away. He cleaned that up for an eagle three, Russell Henley, his opponent in the extra session, bogeyed, and Matsuyama won his eighth PGA Tour tournament.
And those with a seat at Waialae cheered once more. Though maybe not even the most ardent of Matsuyama supporters could have seen this coming just two hours earlier.
Henley, up two to begin the day, ballooned his advantage to five after nine. Over a four-hole stretch, he: birdied the 452-yard, par-4 6th after hitting his approach to within 2 feet; birdied the 166-yard, par-3 7th after hitting his tee shot to 8 feet; birdied the 457-yard, par-4 8th on a 3-foot putt; and eagled the 506-yard, par-5 9th after hitting his second shot, from 205 yards away, to 3 feet.
From there, Matsuyama began to chip away. He birdied 10, and the lead was four. He birdied 11, Henley bogeyed, and the lead was two. He birdied 15, and the lead was one. Then, on 18, the first time around, Matsuyama nearly jumped out of his shoes on his tee shot, got home in two and two-putted for birdie, a round of 63 and a 23-under total, while Henley, after hitting his tee shot into a fairway bunker, lipped out a 10-footer for birdie, a round of 65 and the same 23-under. And they headed back to 18.
There, Henley again hit into a fairway bunker, Matsuyama found the fairway, and he then hit one toward the sun.
“To be honest I didn’t even see it,” Matsuyama said afterward.
“It was a good shot,” a reporter said.
“But everybody started cheering and I knew it was good,” Matsuyama continued.