I’ve never been a fan of grandiose declarations that a young golfer has emerged into superstar status.
Everyone remembers Tiger Woods declaring, “Hello, world” prior to his professional debut. Not everyone remembers that it took him two months to win his first pro tournament.
I’m certainly not comparing Memorial Tournament champion Hideki Matsuyama to Woods … but if I was, I’d probably point out that Hideki currently owns six pro titles at 22 years and just over three months old, while Tiger had the same number at the same age. I know, I know – Woods was winning ‘em on the PGA Tour against elite competition, while Matsuyama won the first five against comparatively weaker fields in Japan.
So I’m going to stop short of referring to this as a “breakthrough win” for Matsuyama, one which will “open the floodgates” and “usher in a new era.” It isn’t, it doesn’t and it won’t.
I do, however, believe this is the beginning of big things for the technically sound youngster. At worst, he is poised to remain one of the world’s more talented players – a consistent, top-20 guy who wins once or twice a year. At best, he can be a superstar – the type of player we recognize as a household name.
Matsuyama’s victory on Sunday shouldn’t have us proclaiming that just yet, but it should at least make us cognizant of the possibility.