With a brand new coach fixing swing points and diminished superstar media stress this week, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama finds himself on the verge of a historic victory at the Masters.
Matsuyama fired a seven-under par 65 Saturday, his low rating in 37 profession rounds at Augusta National and the week’s first bogey-free spherical, to seize a four-stroke lead after 54 holes on 11-under 205.
About the solely factor that is a thriller to him up to now at Augusta National is what it might imply to his golf-loving homeland if he turns into the first Japanese man to win a significant title.
“I’m not sure how to answer the question,” Matsuyama stated by a translator. “All I can do is prepare well, try my best, and do the best that I can tomorrow.”
Two Japanese ladies have gained main titles, Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s British Open and Chako Higuchi at the 1977 LPGA Championship.
Two Japanese males have managed main runner-up finishes, Isao Aoki at the 1980 US Open and Matsuyama when he shared second at the 2017 US Open.
The solely Asian man to win a significant golf title was South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun at the 2009 PGA Championship.
Often feeling stress from Japanese media, Matsuyama says a restricted media contingent at the Masters because of Covid-19 issues has helped ease his stress load.
“Being in front of the media is still difficult,” Matsuyama stated. “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 has been quite a bit much less nerve-racking for me, and I’ve loved this week.”
Matsuyama, who hasn’t won since the 2017 Akron WGC event, has seven top-10 finishes in majors, including his 2017 US Open effort that boosted him to a career-best second in the world rankings.
But he hasn’t found success lately until now, a change he partly credits to new coach Hidenori Mezawa.
“This 12 months has been a battle. Haven’t actually performed my greatest,” Matsuyama said. “The final three years there have been totally different the reason why I have not been in a position to win.”
Matsuyama, 29, says he has recaptured the magic of his most interesting shotmaking.
“This 12 months, beginning early in the 12 months, I’ve a coach with me now from Japan. It has been an important assist,” he said.
“Things that I used to be feeling in my swing, I might discuss to him about that, and he at all times offers me good suggestions. He has a very good eye.
“It’s like having a mirror for my swing and it has been a great help for me. We worked hard, and hopefully now it’s all starting to come together.”
– Memories of Tiger –
Matsuyama is on the brink of taking a dream inexperienced jacket after watching 15-time main champion Tiger Woods ship superb Masters victories.
“I have a lot of great memories watching the Masters as a young boy. First time I watched, Tiger Woods was the winner,” he stated. “I was always dreaming some day I could play here.”
He bought the likelihood by twice profitable the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, an occasion based with assist from Augusta National to develop golf in the area.
“That experience really gave me a lot of confidence,” Matsuyama stated. “I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the members of Augusta National because I wouldn’t be here today without them.”
Matsuyama shot 68 in solely his third spherical at Augusta at the 2011 Masters. He was low beginner and twenty seventh in his main debut.
“It’s a round I’ll never forget,” he stated. “It gave me the confidence that I could play here. I could play with professional golf as a career.”
That confidence bought a lift when he went 4-under in Saturday’s final 4 holes to grab the lead after a poor drive into the proper tough at the eleventh gap simply earlier than a rain delay.
“I probably hit the worst shot I’ve hit this week,” Matsuyama stated. “During the rain delay, I just figured I can’t hit anything worse than that.”
After birdies at 11 and 12, he hit a 5-iron to 6 toes to eagle the par-5 fifteenth, an 8-iron inches from the gap at 16 for birdie and a wedge to 6 toes at 17 for birdie.
“The 5-iron at 15, by far probably, the best shot I’ve hit this week,” he stated.