• AFP-Jiji

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Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will play in the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship in Japan next month, organisers said Tuesday, headlining a strong field including Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.

Home favorite Matsuyama finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2019 in the inaugural edition of the tournament — Japan’s first U.S. PGA Tour event — which was moved to California last year because of coronavirus.

Matsuyama will be joined at Narashino Country Club in Chiba, east of Tokyo, by Tokyo Olympic champion Schauffele and two-time major winner Morikawa, with Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler also among the 78-man field.

The $9.95 million Zozo Championship, to be held Oct. 21-24, is the only tournament surviving on the PGA Tour’s 2021 “Asian Swing” after events in China and South Korea fell victim to the pandemic.

“Playing at home is always a treat as I’m competing in the U.S. for most parts of the year,” Matsuyama, who became Japan’s first Masters champion in April, said.

“Being the only PGA Tour tournament in Japan, I hope to become the first Japanese golfer to win this event and I will give everything that I’ve got to challenge for a victory.”

The Zozo Championship was launched to great fanfare in 2019, with Woods thrilling huge crowds.

The 15-time major winner finished three strokes clear of Matsuyama, with Rory McIlroy third.

Last year’s winner, at Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, was Patrick Cantlay, who finished one stroke ahead of Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.

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