Q-School Just Another Experience for Matsuo
Golfing dreams, though, havent been achieved. Not yet, anyway. He has gotten through the first stage of qualifying, and at age 33, the South Floridian may yet start his next career as a PGA Tour rookie.
In appearance alone, Matsuo is surely unique. The name, long flowing looks, and facial features may throw everybody off. But when he speaks, he is obviously totally American ' though hes Japanese-American.
Obviously, Ive got this look with this hair, said Matsuo. Im fully Japanese. My height always throws everybody off. Everybody asks me if Im a mix or not, but I am not ' I am full-blooded Japanese.
At the first stage of PGA Tour qualifying in Coral Springs, Fla., Matsuo was six shots better than any other player in the field. His 72-hole total of 18 under par included a course-record 63 in the third round at the TPC at Heron Bay.
This week was special ' obviously I had a lot of good things going and I made a lot of putts this week, he said.
Its been a great year for Matsuo. Playing on the Golden Bear Tour in South Florida, he won two events and captured his second straight money title. All the while, he balanced a second career on the side.
My father and I have a couple of restaurants in the area, in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, said Matsuo. So its been very nice for me to stay home, look over some business, and still be able to play some really good, competitive golf.
Its pretty hectic. This year has been especially hectic. We built our second (restaurant) all the way through the beginning part of this year. So day-to-day, Ive been at the construction site every day. Supposedly, I was supposed to have it done by April and have Golden Bear start by June. But I didnt get it opened until the middle of July, so I was burning it at both ends, playing competitive rounds and going straight to the construction site. So it was pretty rough for awhile there.
All the hard work paid off for Hiroshi, both on the golf course and at the new restaurant, this one flourishing in Jupiter. He took time out to show it off.
This is Matsa Sagami, said Matsuo as he took a couple of visitors through the new restaurant. This is the sushi bar area and the lounge. We have a wide assortment of house specialties here. We invented a bunch of saki toddies. Actually we have one of the larger hibachi areas in Palm Beach County.
As much as he loves the restaurant business, he would trade it all for a shot at the PGA Tour.
Ive always known that Ive had this talent, and Ive been reminded by a lot of my friends and fellow players throughout the years, Matsuo said. I always felt like I kind of under-achieved, but maybe Im getting to a mature age now. So hopefully, this will be it.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.