In case you’re wondering, Hideki Matsuyama finished T7 at The Masters last year and fifth in 2015. Whether or not he can express it in English yet, the 24-year-old Japanese star in the making is certainly looking down the road toward Augusta, Ga.
No Japanese player has won one of professional golf’s four major championships, not even the great Jumbo Ozaki. Now that Matsuyama has won his fourth event on the PGA Tour, he’s one of the two hottest players in the game and you’d have to believe he’d get pretty short odds when the touts post the pre-Masters numbers.
Matsuyama does everything you need to do to succeed at Augusta National. He can thump it off the tee, he’s a good iron player and, while he’s not a great putter, he putts it well enough.
A four-time green jacket winner told us the weekend before last that he, too, was pointing toward the first week in April. But that was after he missed the cut at Torrey Pines. And now that Tiger pulled up lame and didn’t make his second-round starting time in Dubai, people all over are wondering whether we are closer to the end than to a new beginning.
Even Tiger’s former teacher Butch Harmon said out loud on Sky Sports that Tiger might not be able to play again “at any level.” This is the same man who won the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg. But it’s the same man who hasn’t won a major since.
There’s no question that you’d believe Matsuyama has a better chance at The Masters than Tiger will. Tiger has, however, performed the impossible before.