A L BA N Y, BA H A M A S
H I D E K I
MATSUYAMA In a golf-crazed country like Japan, fans have been yearning for years to find the next great Isao Aoki, the Hall of Fame golfer who finished second to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 U.S. Open. Hideki Matsuyama might be that man. Indeed, Matsuyama might need a translator to conduct interviews but his golf game speaks volumes and needs no translation. With a breakout victory at the 2014 Memorial Tournament in his first full season on the PGA TOUR, an exciting playoff win at this year’s riveting Waste Management Phoenix Open and seven top-10 finishes overall, Matsuyama is making a strong statement that he can handle the pressure of being Japan’s next proud golf son. He is particularly comfortable on the big stage, cracking the top 10 at the U.S. Open and Open Championship as a 2013 rookie, becoming the youngest player to win the Memorial in 2014 at just over 22 years of age (beating Tiger Woods’ tournament record) and finishing fifth at last year’s Masters Tournament. Unlike fellow countryman and peer Ryo Ishikawa, who turned pro at 16 after becoming the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world when he captured the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup as a 15-year-old amateur, Matsuyama decided to remain in college and further mature physically and mentally. That maturity showed at this year’s Phoenix Open, when Matsuyama sank a clutch birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff victory over Rickie Fowler.
B I R T H P L AC E : E H I M E , JA PA N
TO U R WINS
HERO WORLD CHALLENGE MAGAZINE