Hideki Matsuyama emulates Tiger Woods with Masters and ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP victory double

Japan’s golfing hero recovered from a front nine final round stumble to complete victory at the Narashino Country Club.

Even in victory, Hideki Matsuyama was tough on himself.

Ahead of this week's ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP at Narashino Country Club he had marked his form as a rather miserable one out of ten.

So, did he re-assess his judgment in the aftermath of his five shot victory?

"I would rate my performance as two or three," he said. "From the results perspective, it went about to eight, but I think it's because all the energy that I was getting from the fans and I was very surprised how much energy I was feeding off of them.

"Yes, that's how I honestly felt. My confidence was around one or two, but thanks to all the Japanese crowd out there, I was able to feed off of their energy and play well."

It was an entertainingly downbeat post-triumph chat from the 29-year-old who had seen his pre-final round one shot lead over Cameron Tringale turned into a one shot deficit after ten holes on Sunday afternoon.

His response was strong, ticking three birdies in the next five holes to decisively retake the lead.

Tringale could only answer with pars and when he pushed on the final two holes he made a pair of bogeys; Matsuyama, in contrast, thrashed a brilliant approach to the par-5 18th hole that he very nearly slam-dunked into the hole before draining the eagle putt to confirm the victory.

He then admitted that he'd had a double target this week.

"It was one of my biggest goals to win in front of the Japanese fans and I'm very happy to have accomplished that," he said.

"Also, in 2019 Tiger Woods won the Masters and went on to win the ZOZO Championship, so I'm glad that I have been able to emulate that as well."

He then returned to his favourite theme of the week: how his poor golf had been saved by the fans.

"You guys may have had a chance to see me on the driving range," he said. "My balls were all over the place and not consistent, but once at the golf course, I was able to feed off of the energy of the crowd and was able to play well.

"A factor that was going for me was the fans rooting for me and they were behind me, so I'm glad that I was able to convert the energy from the crowd.

"I was the only Japanese player contending on the leaderboard. To be honest, there were some pressures to deal with, but I'm glad I was able to convert that to positives."

It's been a curious year for the Sendai-based player, one in which he has struggled for consistency and yet also enjoyed huge highs.

A man who was once something of a top 10 machine has actually landed just five of them in 26 starts in 2021.

But the first was his maiden Major Championship victory at the Masters in April, the second saw him just miss out on a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, he added second in the SGC St Jude Invitational, and now glory on home soil.

He revealed after the win that he had his eye on the future.

"I don't have any schedule set for the upcoming weeks," he said, "but hopefully I can keep the momentum going for the rest of the year.

"The most PGA TOUR wins by Asian players is K.J. Choi's eight wins and Shigeki Maruyama has told me to go on and beat that record, so I'm glad I'm getting close to it."

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