Start On the Putting Greens

            Born in 1992, Hideki Matsuyama is an international golfer with a strong reputation despite being a young player. He’s often compared to the likes of other budding golf stars, such as Bryson DeChambeau, due to closeness in age. However, unlike DeChambeau and other twenty-something professionals in the PGA Tour and its global counterparts, Matsuyama immediately took his career to international heights since first going pro in 2013.

           Matsuyama also comes from a bit of a golf dynasty. His father, Mikio, was responsible for helping teach him how to play the sport, but he also guided Hideki' career within the industry. After all, golf is often considered one of the most difficult sports to break into due its prohibitive expenses in terms of equipment and the difficulties often associated with finding (and paying) an elite coach. In fact, to this day, Matsuyama still doesn’t have a swing coach given his ability to self-direct.

            Matsuyama began his Japanese career while still an amateur player. In 2011, he won the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters tournament, part of the Japan Golf Tour, which is a PGA affiliate. This helped propel him to first place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking by the following year, in August of 2012.

Rise in Japan

            At the start of his professional career in 2013, Matsuyama was already a household name in Japan's golf circles. It didn’t take long for him to take the Tsuruya Open in Spring of 2013, and then, only five weeks later, a second win at the Diamond Cup Golf tournament. However, Matsuyama’s powerhouse first year in golf didn’t stop there.

            In September of 2013, he competed in the Fujisankei Classic, and in December he went on to take the Casio World Open. Not only did Matsuyama succeed in taking five titles in his first year as a golf professional, but he also became the first rookie to lead the Japan Tour’s money list.

Following this successful run in Japan, Matsuyama went on to join the PGA Tour in 2014 through the non-member earnings that he accrued during his breakout year in 2013.

 

International Career

That’s right, Matsuyama isn’t only a domestic athlete. In fact, in addition to his eight Japan Golf Tour titles, he’s also an accomplished golfer in the PGA Tour circuit and has taken five US wins. Though his 2020 PGA Championship future odds see him treading water beside Rickie Fowler, Matsuyama has proven his ability to compete at any level. He even took the 2016 Hero World Challenge title, defeating runner-up Henrik Stenson to win the private, Tiger Woods-hosted event.

Matsuyama’s victories in the PGA Tour have also seen him slowly climb the ranks of the Official World Golf Rankings. Following his entrance into the PGA Tour in 2014, he went on to place in the top-25 for all six tournaments he participated in, with a highest ranking of T-6.

Though Matsuyama was also busy returning to his homeland to continue building his trophy collection of Japan Tour wins, his 2015 finish in fifth place at the Masters Tournament marked the highest accomplishment of his career, and even contributed to him going on to play for the International Team in the 2015 Presidents Cup.

By 2016, Matsuyama was ranked 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He owes this position not only to his performance in US tournaments, like the Waste Management Phoenix Open playoff with Rickie Fowler, but also his performance in the 2016 Japan Open and the subsequent WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, known globally as Asia’s premier major tournament.

However, this victory in China at the WGC-HSBC Champions, also an affiliate of the PGA Tour, wasn't just 'par for the course' for Matsuyama. This victory was the first taken by an Asian golfer since the PGA Tour created the WGC in 1999, and saw the young pro climb higher in the global rankings, all the way up to sixth place.

However, by 2017, Matsuyama managed to climb to second place on that list. This was thanks to not only his killer international performance in 2016, but also his play at the 2017 US Open. While major players like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson weren’t able to take a top position, Matsuyama took second in the tournament behind Brooks Koepka.

 

Published by Matthew Piggot