AUSTIN - World No. 6 Hideki Matsuyama’s bogey-free effort earned him a win over compatriot Yusaku Miyazato on Wednesday in the group stage of the Dell Technologies Match Play.
In a turnaround from his performance at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Matsuyama nailed seven birdies to best Miyazato 2 and 1 in Group 5 at Austin Country Club. The two players both graduated from Sendai’s Tohoku Fukushi University, but are 11 years apart in age and had never played alongside or against each other.
“I was able to play well, hitting some nice shots from the fairway,” said Matsuyama, whose birdie putts were all within 11 feet.
“After shooting poorly last week, I feel like I’m really getting back into my game.”
Miyazato started out in the lead after birdies on 1 and 4, but back-to-back bogeys by the world No. 57 allowed Matsuyama to turn with a one-shot lead.
“It was interesting,” Matsuyama said. “Although we both made mistakes, I’m glad we were able to play well.”
The 37-year-old Miyazato answered back with a birdie on the 10th, but Matsuyama secured the win with five birdies over the final eight holes.
“I couldn’t control my irons, which didn’t feel great. It’s a little disappointing since my putting was good,” Miyazato said.
In Group 16, Yuta Ikeda overcame five bogeys and a double to beat England’s Ross Fisher 2 and 1 for his first win in match play format in six attempts.
Three birdies evened out Ikeda’s turbulent round as Fisher struggled, carding six bogeys of his own.
“We both had some good and bad luck, and it could have gone either way. I want to make some adjustments to my driving game,” Ikeda said.
In Group 14, match play debutant Satoshi Kodaira was beaten by Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello 2 and 1.
The Spaniard held a two-shot lead through eight holes but Kodaira evened the match on the 10th after his round’s lone birdie. Cabrera Bello sunk two straight birdies on 12 and 13 and a bogey on 16 sealed Kodaira’s fate.
“I did not have a good day,” Kodaira said. “My rhythm was off overall.”