Hideki Matsuyama:”First Japanese Grand Slam is Possible” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hideki Matsuyama:”First Japanese Grand Slam is Possible”

Mental toughness and a remarkable improvement in approach under the pressure of being the previous year's champion.

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Matsuyama took on the challenge with the same trainers and caddies as last year’s “Masters”. The combined strength of “Team Matsuyama” supported the team in the face of injuries and bad weather (Photo: Kyodo News / Getty Images)The Masters, one of the four major men’s golf tournaments, reached its final day on April 11 (Japan time). Hideki Matsuyama (30), the reigning champion, finished in a tie for 2nd place in the qualifying round, but his score fell dramatically on the third day, and he eventually finished in a tie for 14th place. He missed the title for the second year in a row.

Although he had to push through neck pain that he developed in March, golf journalist Kazuhiko Muto analyzed the event, saying, “It was a very fruitful tournament.”

Matsuyama’s style until now has been young golf, relying on physical strength and power. However, with injuries preventing him from practicing and producing distance, at Augusta he was able to see the entire 18-hole course and play golf with a crisp, clear game. It’s a benefit of the injury, but it’s a big gain in broadening my style of play. “

In fact, on the 12th hole on the first day, his first shot fell into the creek, but he made a super shot to bring it 20 cm closer to the pin with his third shot. He was able to get out of a deadly pinch with a bogey.

I think I have grown a lot in terms of my mentality. Even under the pressure of being a major champion, I was able to make a series of successful shots like the one on the 12th on the first day. I think this experience will be a great source of food for him,” said Muto.

His approach shots, which are his forte, have also been further refined. Pro golfer and commentator Seiichi Numazawa said, “I have been able to improve my approach shots by using a sharper club.

He was holding his left elbow slightly pulled back so that he could hit the ball at a sharper angle with the club. It depends on the flying distance, but you can get about 1,000 rpm more backspin. This allows me to stop the ball exactly where I want it to go.

The next major tournaments are the US Pro in May, the US Open in June, and the British Open in July. Numazawa says, “I can see the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam.

After winning the Masters last year, I am sure I have figured out how to make the adjustments necessary to win a major. Despite his injury, he was able to make the best adjustments this time as well, finishing second in the qualifying round. It is great that I have established how to peak for big tournaments. “

If there is a concern, it is the British Open. Muto said.

Matsuyama is good at hitting the ball on a high trajectory to the target spot so that the ball doesn’t get long, but the British Open is one of the windiest courses in the world. This method is affected by the wind. The key is how to overcome the wind on his weakest course.

Matsuyama will be able to take advantage of the headwinds and become even stronger.

From the April 29, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photo Kyodo News/Getty Images

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