AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hideki Matsuyama was 5-under par and two strokes off the lead Saturday when the third spherical of the Masters was interrupted by an hour-and-18 minute climate delay. Looking for a way to fill the time, he went to his automotive within the parking zone, pulled out his cellphone and began taking part in video games.
From now on, all golfers in all places ought to wait out a rain delay of their automobiles, on their cell telephones, taking part in games. That’s as a result of when Masters play resumed, Matsuyama rampaged by way of his closing eight holes in a shocking six-under par, together with 4 birdies and an eagle, to leap right into a startling four-shot lead heading into Sunday’s closing spherical.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have believed it,” he stated later by way of an interpreter, and that made all of the sense on the planet. Who would have? He had simply hit his worst shot of the week, he stated later – a wayward drive into the timber far proper of the eleventh fairway – but when he got here again after chilling in his automotive, he discovered a gap to the inexperienced along with his strategy and sank a 19-foot birdie putt to go to 6-under par.
“I just figured I can’t hit anything worse than that,” he stated of the drive. “Maybe it relieved some pressure, I don’t know, but I did hit it well coming in after the delay.”
Unlike a few of his prime rivals who appeared to have hassle determining simply how a lot the rain slowed down the greens, altering not solely the golf course but additionally the match, Matsuyama seemed as if he flipped a swap the second he returned.
He birdied the par-3 twelfth from 10 toes, eagled the par-5 fifteenth from 6 toes, birdied the par-3 sixteenth from 4 toes and birdied the par-4 seventeenth from 11 toes. When he saved par on 18 from behind the inexperienced, he ended with a 7-under 65, the one bogey-free spherical up to now at this Masters, fairly an achievement on a day of shifting skies, from rippling winds to rain to a chilled softness to end issues off.
“I hit every shot practically exactly as I wanted to,” he stated. His 54-hole complete was 11-under par, 4 higher than a quartet of golfers at 7-under, together with first- and second-round chief Justin Rose.
If he retains this up, Matsuyama, 29, would turn into the primary male Japanese golfer to win a serious. Two Japanese girls have gained majors: Hisako Higuchi gained the 1977 LPGA Championship and Hinako Shibuno gained the 2019 Women’s British Open.
Last Saturday, his countrywoman, 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani, gained the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Normally, Matsuyama, who first performed within the Masters 10 years in the past as an beginner, would have a big gathering of Japanese reporters and photographers following his each transfer. But due to COVID-19 journey restrictions, the media pack is sort of non-existent.
He was requested if that maybe lessens the strain on him this week.
“I’m not sure how to answer this in a good way,” he stated, “but being in front of the media is still difficult. I’m glad the media are here covering it, but it’s not my favorite thing to do, to stand and answer questions. And so with fewer media, it’s been a lot less stressful for me, and I’ve enjoyed this week.”
The actual take a look at is available in Sunday’s closing spherical. “It will be a new experience for me, being the leader in the final round in a major,” he stated. “All I can do is relax.”
Japanese journalists may not be right here in power, however he is aware of the eyes of a golf-loving nation most positively will likely be on him.
This article initially appeared on USA TODAY: Masters leader Hideki Matsuyama leads Justin Rose, others by 4 shots