Matsuyama hoping to rekindle scintillating recent form
Hideki Matsuyama is aiming to become Japan's first male major golf champion by winning this week's 81st US Masters in Augusta, Georgia.Marseille - PSG live online
Fourth-ranked Hideki Matsuyama will be attempting to become Japan's first male major golf champion by winning this week's US Masters, but admits his form has dipped a little since his sizzling run at the tail end of last year.
The 25-year-old Asian No.1 ended 2016 with wins at the Japan Open, the World Golf Championships event in Shanghai, the Taiheiyo Masters in Japan and the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. And while he also managed to defend his PGA Phoenix Open crown in February, Matsuyama says he has not been able to recapture the magic of a few months ago.
Matsuyama recognizes dip in form
“Compared to last November and December, my game isn't at that same level right now. I've been working hard and seeing some improvement. That's one of the reasons I'm really looking forward to this week, to see how my game stands up”, the player admitted today.
He has however, been hard at work honing his technique. “I've been working on my short game a lot, almost too much, because my longer shots, iron shots, drivers, have suffered a bit; and because of that, I've gone back to the full swing now and working a lot more on that than I have been. I'm really not hitting it as well as I would like, so whether or not my confidence level is where it should be, I'm not sure. But one thing I am looking forward to is for the bells to ring on Thursday and see how I do. I hope I can play a lot better than I have been the last couple weeks”, he admitted.
Matsuyama, Fowler and Knox at the US Masters
Matsuyama will tee off alongside eighth-ranked American Rickie Fowler and Scotland's Russell Knox on Thursday. “I'm really looking forward to this week. This is the first major of the year and I've put a lot of energy, a lot of work into preparing for this week, and hopefully on Sunday, when I walk off the 18th green, I can be satisfied with how I played”, he explained.
He openly says that he has learned more about Augusta National with every year he has tried to his best to pull on the fabled green jacket. “Every year you play the course, you learn a little more, especially where not to hit it. That has been one of the keys, playing five times before, that I've been able to learn and to understand”, he said. “In the last two years, I didn't hit it that well but I was able to get it in the hole. I guess course management is what has really helped me. Even though I'm not hitting it well, I can still hit it around OK”.
Matsuyama recalls watching Tiger Woods as a boy
Matsuyama's earliest memory of the Masters was 20 years ago when he witnessed Tiger Woods stride to victory with an Augusta National course record. “I was five, so I didn't know much about golf, but he sure looked good in that red shirt and black pants. I mean, I can still see it. The one thing I remember about Tiger's play was how far he hit it”.
Matusyama said the Masters has a special place in the hearts of Japanese fans because it has global stars and familiar holes, being the only major played on the same layout every year. “Japanese golf fans and TV viewers are familiar with the course and so for them, it's a lot easier to turn the TV on and know what's going on. They see all the great players from around the world. And in that sense, it's a special tournament among all the majors”, he concluded.
The history of Japanese golfers competing in #themasters stretches back 81 years. https://t.co/UjybUogIJL — Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) 3 April 2017
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