Matsuyama, Johnson set for Saturday showdown


NASSAU, Bahamas – While much of the attention will be allocated to the suddenly resurgent tournament host at the Hero World Challenge, an interesting battle is on deck at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend.

Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama share the lead at the halfway point, each boasting a 12-under 132 total. It leaves them two shots clear of the next closest duo, and it sets up an enticing matchup between the consensus Player of the Year and perhaps the hottest player in the world at the moment.

While Johnson has made his mark in recent months with eye-opening drives, he credits his work around the greens at Albany Golf Club as a big reason for his success, having shot 3-under 33 for each nine-hole split thus far.

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“Actually, the short game’s been pretty good,” he said. “Today I struggled a little bit with the driver on the back nine but made some nice up-and-downs. Then I felt like I’ve been rolling the putter pretty well the first two days.”

Johnson’s three-win season, including a U.S. Open title, deservedly netted him the trophy in October as the PGA Tour’s best player. But Matsuyama’s recent record includes three wins and a runner-up in his last four worldwide starts, highlighted by his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where Johnson finished T-35.

Matsuyama is now up to No. 6 in the world, and he hopes to continue the momentum in a marquee pairing with one of the few players ahead of him in the rankings.

“I’m looking forward to it, playing with one of the world’s best,” Matsuyama said. “Hopefully I can just keep playing my own game and play the best that I can.”