Hideki Matsuyama lines up his putt on the first green during the singles match play of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte September 25, 2022. — Reuters pic
Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 2:42 PM MYT
TOKYO, Sept 27 — World number 18 Hideki Matsuyama said Tuesday that he will defend his Zozo Championship crown at his home US PGA Tour event in Japan next month.
The 2021 Masters champion delighted huge galleries on home soil a year ago as he was cheered to a five-shot victory at Narashino Country Club in Chiba, near Tokyo.
“I am pleased to announce I will be participating in the Zozo Championship again this year and am very happy to be able to compete as the defending champion in the only PGA Tour tournament held in Japan,” said Matsuyama.
“I will do my best to play well for all the golf fans who have always supported me, and I hope to see my fans at the golf course.”
Joining Matsuyama, who was part of the International Team that lost the Presidents Cup on Sunday, at the Narashino course will be US team opponents Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.
Matsuyama will also face nine of his Presidents Cup teammates, including South Korea’s Sungjae Im, Kim Si-woo, KH Lee and rising star Tom Kim, as he looks to become the first player to defend the title at Japan’s US$11 million (RM50.7 million) PGA Tour event.
Matsuyama, 30, captured his seventh PGA Tour title in October last year when the Zozo Championship returned to Chiba after a Covid-enforced absence in 2020.
Asia’s only Masters champion, Matsuyama was runner-up to Tiger Woods at the inaugural Zozo Championship in 2019, when the American memorably won a record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour title at Narashino Country Club, and his presence will ensure bumper crowds again for the elite 78-player event.
“It’s always very special when Hideki Matsuyama returns home to compete in front of Japanese fans,” said Zozo Championship executive director Travis Steiner.
“As our defending champion, he will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention and support from the home crowd which will be amazing.” — AFP