Hometown hero Hideki Matsuyama didn’t disappoint his faithful as the PGA Tour returned to his native Japan for the Zozo Championship.
Matsuyama, who solidified his rock-star status at home by winning the Masters in April, surprised even himself with his flawless play in the opening round. He birdied two of his first three holes and fired a bogey-free 6-under 64 at Accordia Golf Narashino, located just east of Tokyo. That score was good enough to tie Chile’s Joaquin Niemann for the second-best score of the day and leave both players one stroke off the lead. On the eve of the tournament, Matsuyama downplayed his chances for success.
“If my game scored 10 out of 10 at the Masters, now I would say it scores less than 1,” he said. “I will be struggling this week but I am here in Japan so I am motivated to be in contention.”
Indeed, the 29-year-old Matsuyama’s form has slipped below his high standards since becoming the first Japanese male golfer to win a major. He has recorded just two top-10 finishes since his major moment. In the aftermath of his triumph, he returned to Japan with the Green Jacket in tow and received the Prime Minister’s Award. He also competed in the…
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