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Hideki Matsuyama shoots 3-under 70 in first round of Sentry Tournament of Champions

Kyodo

Hideki Matsuyama sits three shots off the lead after Thursday’s first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Matsuyama carded five birdies and two bogies for a 3-under-par 70, landing in a five-way tie for seventh at the Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course.

Australian first-round leader Marc Leishman reeled in eight birdies and two bogeys en route to a 6-under 67. American Brian Harman and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas were each one shot behind, in the competition restricted to winners of 2017 PGA Tour events.

The 25-year-old Matsuyama said he had so far performed better than he expected at the tournament, where he finished runner-up last year and joint third in 2015.

“I’m surprised I did better than I thought I would,” Matsuyama said. “My putting wasn’t good at all in terms of distance, but I got the necessary points so I’d like to think about it positively.”

Last year’s winner, Justin Thomas of the United States, is in a tie for 12th, four shots behind Leishman.

Miyazato excited about Masters

Yusaku Miyazato said Friday he is looking forward to competing in the Masters for the first time.

“I’m pumped. I want to get into top shape for the competition,” said the 37-year-old, who booked a spot in the invitation-only competition by placing among the top 50 in the world rankings released in December.

Miyazato received an invitation Thursday to compete in the first major championship of the year, which begins April 5 in Augusta, Georgia.

“My parents were crying with joy,” said Miyazato, who grew up in a family of golfers. “My father has always told me to take him there and it’s been our dream, so it’s a dream come true.”

He said his sister and former world No. 1 Ai Miyazato, who retired from competitive golf at age 32 at the end of the 2017 season, is planning to visit the golf course to cheer him on during his rounds