Hideki Matsuyama is expected to win a gold medal to continue to honor Japanese golf, but his performance and preparation has not been good lately.

The Japanese golf team participating in the Olympics at home has four players. But Matsuyama is the trump card, with a collection of achievements including five PGA Tour championships and a major title at the 85th Masters in April.

“Finally the Olympics have come. I’m impatient to compete, but also nervous because it’s my first time attending the Olympics and everyone’s confidence. I will do my best to bring good results,” Matsuyama said. July 27 after last weekend’s practice at Kasumigaseki Country Club – this year’s Olympic golf battlefield.

Matsuyama during a test session at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 27.  Photo: Olympic Golf

Matsuyama during a test session at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 27. Photo: Olympic Golf

That is the determination, but over the past three months, Matsuyama suddenly “lost fire” in form.

After the Masters, he returned to his hometown and received the noble title – Award from the Prime Minister. “This award is a motivation for me to strive harder. Thank you everyone for your support. And now, I will work hard to win the Tokyo Olympic gold medal,” said the golfer born in 1992 at the honoring ceremony.

However, when returning to the PGA Tour – the most important front for his personal career, since mid-May, Matsuyama has only finished the highest T23 through five events, including both the major PGA Championship and the US Open. Down in form, he still had Covid-19 so he had to stop competing in Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 2 and major The Open two weeks later. Therefore, for the past three weeks, he “does a vegetarian diet”.

“During the 10 days of isolation, I just stayed at home and just tried to recover. The stick was of course left behind. Having qualified to return to Japan, I tried to quickly feel professional on the training ground,” said Matsuyama. on 7/27.

After Covid-19 and lack of actual combat, experience in Kasumigaseki became an important advantage for Matsuyama. This arena recorded him winning the domestic youth tournament in 2019 and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (APAC) 2010, while most international players only knew through the Internet or word of mouth and the trial round.

Tomorrow morning, July 29, Matsuyama will enter the medal search at 8:40 a.m. local time and teammate Rikuya Hoshino will be honored to kick off the opening ball 70 minutes before. The women’s host team includes domestic stars Mone Inami and Nasa Hataoka with two major runners-up and four LPGA Tour titles.

Japanese Golf produces world-class players, two women’s major champions – Hisako Higuchi at the Women’s PGA Championship 1977, and Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s Open. They already have male stars who made a splash on the PGA Tour, such as Isao Aoki, Jumbo Ozaki, Tommy Nakajima, Shigeki Maruyama, Shingo Katyama or Ryo Ishikawa. But no one won the men’s major, until the time of Matsuyama.

Thanks to a wildcard and then the first place in APAC 2010, Matsuyama first attended the exclusive major of Augusta National Stadium next year, at the end of the tournament, he won the title of “Outstanding amateur player”. Since then, Japanese golf began to rekindle the dream that one day he would return home with a major.

Matsuyama turned pro since 2013. With five titles in four years, he is known as “the most successful Japanese golfer on the PGA Tour”. And the land of Funang continues to hope.

With the Masters 2021, Matsuyama is the first male major champion from Japan, thereby making the biggest “dream come true” for the country. Now, he is carrying another noble task – Olympic gold when he is not really ready.

Currently, Japan is only behind the US in terms of infrastructure and golf market size. They have 3,140 courts – 2021 statistics from Royal & Ancient (R&A), with total sales of more than 2 billion USD, according to Golf Digest. Meanwhile, joint research from Golf DataTech and Yano Research Institute said that Japan accounts for 22% of the world golf economy.

Quoc Huy

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