BANDO, IBARAKI PREF. – Hideki Matsuyama, who has already won a domestic tournament after turning pro last month, finished atop the leaderboard on Monday by four strokes in the Japanese final regional qualifier for a spot in next month’s U.S. Open.
The 21-year-old, who won the Tsuruya Open on April 28 in his second event as a pro and leads the JGTO money rankings, holed out at 8-under 132 in the 36-hole event contested by 33 players. It will be his first appearance in the PGA Tour’s second major.
“I’m usually not that good at playing 36 holes,” said Matsuyama, who had a total of nine birdies on the day. “I was able to play solid golf and I feel that my game has gotten better.”
Matsuyama was at 3 under in third after the first 18 holes but turned up the pace with five birdies and no bogeys in the final 18 at Otone Country Club.
“Unless you’re playing (in a major), there’s no way to improve your technique,” he said. “I’d like to make the cut and aim to finish high on the leaderboard.”
South Korean Hwang Jung Gon came second while Yui Ueda was a further stroke back in third. Hiroyuki Fujita who won a three-way playoff for fourth also booked his spot along with Yoshinobu Tsukada in the June 13 to 16 event in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, among the top five Japanese golfers.
Yuta Ikeda sat out the qualifier due to a sore back.