Hideki Matsuyama returns to Japan to play in this week’s Zuzu Tournament as the defending champion
Enzai (Japan) (AFP) – Hideki Matsuyama said Tuesday that he is fully committed to playing on the US PGA Tour as he prepares to defend his title at the Zuzu Championship this week in his home country of Japan.
Matsuyama, who became Japan’s first major winner of the US Masters last year, will face a field featuring Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Shaveli, Colin Morikawa and South Korean rookie Kim Joo-hyung as the US PGA Tour returns to Narashino Country Club.
Several superstars, including two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and British Open champion Cameron Smith, have pulled out of the US PGA Tour to Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which offers huge prizes.
The PGA Tour prevented LIV golfers from competing in their events and world number 19 Matsuyama said he had no intention of joining the Rebel circuit.
said the 30-year-old, who in the past won the Zozo Championship of the Year title with a stunning eagle on the last hole.
“I am playing on the PGA Tour and I want to continue to do my best here.”
The US PGA Tour has arrived in Japan days after LIV Golf held its first $25 million event in Asia in Bangkok.
The breakaway circuit shines from the announcement that the players competing in Bangkok and the season-ending event in Jeddah will not receive the world ranking points, despite a joint sanctions agreement with the Middle East and North Africa Tour.
The OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) that awards the points said it had not been adequately notified and needed to conduct a review of the events of LIV Golf, the latest chapter in a bitter civil war that has torn apart golf and prompted accusations of Saudi
“sports laundering”. .
Big-hit American LIV player Bryson Deschamps said failure to award rating points “delays the inevitable.”
– Master tiger –
Matsuyama expressed sympathy for the Lev players but said it likely won’t be easy to solve.
“I think it’s good to give them the trophies, but I think it’s hard to think of how they are viewed by the other rounds,” Matsuyama said.
Norway’s Victor Hovland, ranked 11th in the world, said Liv’s players “should not get points overnight”.
“At the same time, they have some really good players out there, and if some of those players fall outside the top 100 in the world, it’s not good for the world ranking either.”
The $11 million Zozo Championship was established in 2019 as the first US PGA Tour tournament in Japan.
Thousands of Japanese fans came to watch Tiger Woods win the inaugural title with his 82nd victory on the US PGA Tour – equaling the record-breaking 54-year-old Sam Snead.
The tournament was held in California in 2020 due to the pandemic but returned to Japan last year in front of a limited audience.
There are no restrictions on attendance this year and Matsuyama said he is looking forward to home support.
“It’s great to be back as a defending champion,” he said.
“I’ve been really impressed the last couple of days. It’s been training days but still a lot of people are coming out and cheering for us, and I know there will be more on Thursday and over the weekend.
“I hope I can give my best and give everyone something to cheer about.”