NORTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Hideki Matsuyama’s FedEx Cup Playoffs struggle continued at the Dell Technologies Championship on Friday, with the world No. 3 finishing the first round at 1 over, six shots back of rival and leader Dustin Johnson.
Searching for form after missing the cut at the playoffs opener last week, Matsuyama got his four days at the TPC Boston off to a difficult start, his round seeing a bit of everything, from eagle to double bogey.
Johnson, who with his win at last week’s Northern Trust bumped Matsuyama into second on the season’s money list, finished with a day’s best 66, his back nine consisting of three birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 18th.
An accomplished quartet, including 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, sits in a tie for second one shot behind.
“It was like I was playing golf that didn’t come together,” said a frustrated Matsuyama. “I’m not tired. It’s not like I have a problem concentrating. It’s just a technical problem. I just have to make the cut.”
Matsuyama had a less than ideal start when he found a cart path with his tee shot on the par-3 third. After taking a drop, he chipped to 15 feet but could not get up and down, leaving him to walk away with a double-bogey five.
Matsuyama pulled a shot back with a birdie on the fourth, but was back at 2 over after a bogey on the sixth. Another bogey at 17 had Matsuyama facing down a horror score, but his round was saved by an eagle on 18, a hole which played by far the easiest for all on the day.
After a good drive, Matsuyama hit his second to within 6 feet before dropping the putt to pull himself back to just 1 over for the day.
“(The eagle on 18) came just by luck. I’m not sure how I managed that,” Matsuyama said.