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Sport Matsuyama warms to task with 68 to grab Zozo Championship lead

12:05  22 october  2021
12:05  22 october  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Hideki Matsuyama and caddie try to stay dry during the second round of PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan Takashi AOYAMA AFP. The US Masters champion , playing in front of his fervent home fans at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club outside Tokyo, carded a second-round 68 to move to eight-under par. Matsuyama , Japan's only male major winner, has a one-stroke lead over American Cameron Tringale, who had a superb four-under 66 on a chilly, damp day that made the par-70 course play much longer than its 7,041 yards.

Before the 2021 Zozo Championship started, Hideki Matsuyama warned fans that he did not have his best stuff and "will be struggling this week." He said, if his game at the Masters was a 10 (he won that, by the way), it was currently less than a one. So, of course, Matsuyama went out and shot a 64 in Both of them are chasing an unlikely Round 1 leader in Hiroshi Iwata, who shot 7-under 63 over the first 18 holes and went birdie-birdie-eagle to close out his first nine holes before taking a one-stroke lead with his performance on the back nine. Let's dive a little deeper into his round and take a look at what

Hideki Matsuyama ground his way into the lead in cold and wet conditions at the US PGA Tour's Zozo Championship Friday on a day to forget for Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.

Hideki Matsuyama and caddie try to stay dry during the second round of PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan © Takashi AOYAMA Hideki Matsuyama and caddie try to stay dry during the second round of PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan

The US Masters champion, playing in front of his fervent home fans at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club outside Tokyo, carded a second-round 68 to move to eight-under par.

Tommy Fleetwood was one of two Englishmen who seemed to revel in the rain along with Matt Wallace © Takashi AOYAMA Tommy Fleetwood was one of two Englishmen who seemed to revel in the rain along with Matt Wallace

Matsuyama, Japan's only male major winner, has a one-stroke lead over American Cameron Tringale, who had a superb four-under 66 on a chilly, damp day that made the par-70 course play much longer than its 7,041 yards.

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Matsuyama returned to Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in the Chiba Prefecture with fond memories, having finished second to Tiger Woods in 2019 at the inaugural Zozo Championship . That honor belonged to Hiroshi Iwata, who concentrates on playing the Japan Golf Tour and was making his first start on the PGA Tour since 2017. Iwata, 40, made an eagle and six birdies en route to carding 7-under 63 to grab the lead . Matsuyama rolled in birdies on three of his first six holes, including reaching the par-5 sixth in two with a beautiful hybrid to 10 feet.

Hideki Matsuyama electrified the home galleries as he got off to a fast start with a six-under round of 64 at the US PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan on Thursday. He plundered another three birdies on the back nine to lie just a stroke off the first-round lead held by countryman Hiroshi Iwata. "I've shot six-under the last few tournaments on the first day and I just hope I can keep it going this time," said Matsuyama , who had most of the 5,000 masked spectators allowed following his every move.

The poor weather did not deter thousands of spectators from turning out to cheer their hero Hideki Matsuyama at the Zozo Championship on Friday © Takashi AOYAMA The poor weather did not deter thousands of spectators from turning out to cheer their hero Hideki Matsuyama at the Zozo Championship on Friday

The thermometer hovered around 15 Celsius (59F) with rain steadily falling on the PGA Tour's first tournament in Asia since the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in only 30 of the elite 78-man field breaking par.

Matsuyama's controlled display, with three birdies and a solitary bogey, delighted the thousands of spectators who turned out to follow their hero in miserable conditions.

"It wasn't a perfect round, but I played well. I'm happy with it," said Matsuyama.

"It's not often that we play in rain and cold at the same time, but I'm happy with the round and it was a good day."

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(Reuters) - Asia's first Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will look to find momentum at this week's Zozo Championship in his country Japan after a slow start to his 2022 season, the 29-year-old said on Wednesday. © Reuters/MURAD SEZER Golf - Men's Individual - Final - Round 4. Matsuyama made history last season when he become the first Japanese man to win a major championship with a one-shot Masters victory over Will Zalatoris at Augusta National in April.

Hideki Matsuyama electrified the home galleries as he got off to a fast start with a six-under round of 64 at the US PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan on Thursday. Matsuyama , who became the first male Japanese player to win a major at the US Masters in April, birdied the first hole and picked up two more to be three-under after six holes at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, outside Tokyo. He plundered another three birdies on the back nine to lie just a stroke off the first-round lead held by countryman Hiroshi Iwata. "I've shot six-under the last few tournaments on the first day and I just hope

Tringale, chasing a first PGA Tour win 12 years after turning pro, finished with a birdie to equal the low-round of the day with a 66.

"Left myself in the right positions on these greens and was able to make a few putts. That was the day," said the 34-year-old.

'It was freezing' -

Schauffele, back to the country where he won Olympic gold less than three months ago, had a shocking start as he shot 74.

Playing with Matsuyama, he began with a scruffy double bogey and slumped to three more bogeys in the next four holes. He heads into the weekend 12 shots off the lead.

Joaquin Niemann of Chile took a long time to get going in the cold. © Takashi AOYAMA Joaquin Niemann of Chile took a long time to get going in the cold. "It was freezing," he said

Among the chasers, Matsuyama's President's Cup teammate Joaquin Niemann took time to get going.

The Chilean was three-over par for his round with four to play but managed to find two birdies for a 71 to give him a five-under par total that keeps him firmly in the hunt for the $1,791,000 winner's cheque.

Matsuyama's opening 64 thrills Japan fans at Zozo Championship

  Matsuyama's opening 64 thrills Japan fans at Zozo Championship Hideki Matsuyama electrified the home galleries as he got off to a fast start with a six-under round of 64 at the US PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan on Thursday. Matsuyama, who became the first male Japanese player to win a major at the US Masters in April, birdied the first hole and picked up two more to be three-under after six holes at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, outside Tokyo. He plundered another three birdies on the back nine to lie just a stroke off the first-round lead held by countryman Hiroshi Iwata.

Hiroshi Iwata and Hideki Matsuyama delighted Japanese golf enthusiasts by taking the first two places in the Zozo Championship , an event counting for the PGA Tour organized in Japan. It is the first time in his career that Iwata has led a PGA Tour tournament, he who took advantage of Kevin Na’s forfeit last Monday to enter the tournament at the very last moment.

In the opening round of the 2021 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP , Hideki Matsuyama reaches in two, setting up a two-putt birdie at the par-5 6th hole. Highlights Hideki Matsuyama ’s nice approach leads to birdie at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP .

"It was freezing," said the smiling South American, frantically rubbing his hands together to warm them. "Couldn't feel my hands and I managed to have a good round so I'm happy."

Matsuyama had rated his form as only "one out of 10" at the start of the week but Niemann was having none of it.

"He says he's not playing his best golf? I think he's playing pretty good," said Niemann.

Double major champion Collin Morikawa found his form after struggling on day one, a 68 taking him to one-under, seven off the lead.

And there are two Englishman at the right end of the leaderboard, who both seemed to revel in conditions more akin to a British summer.

Matt Wallace followed his first-round 65 with a 69 to move to six-under, level with American Brendan Steele and two behind Matsuyama.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood birdied the last to be a shot further back after a 68.

"It's kind of like home," said Wallace. "But you've got to enjoy it and you've got to embrace it.

"It was cold, wet, greens are soft and a bit slower. It was just a tough day."

Steele will be looking forward to sunshine over the weekend when the forecast looks more favourable.

"I'm from California, I do not play in the rain," he confessed with a smile after a two-under 68.

"When it rains, I stay inside. I was just happy to hold it together today."

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