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Matsuyama blog: Riviera win, Masters hopes and missing out on Tiger pic

Winning the Genesis Invitational was one of my goals ever since I became a professional golfer. After Tiger Woods became tournament host, that goal became a lot bigger.

Reaching nine wins on the PGA Tour was also a big ambition but, after my eighth title, I struggled with a neck injury and there were times when I felt I was never going to win again. I even struggled to finish in the top 10, so I’m really happy I was able to pull off a win.

Before my wins, Shigeki Maruyama had won three times on the PGA Tour and after I won the fourth one, he told me ‘hey, you’ve got to pass KJ Choi’. I am very happy to achieve this and I’ll definitely text Shigeki now that I achieved this goal.

After my injury in 2022, I was always worried something bad might happen. At Riviera this year, I had no issues and I played without any worries which really helped. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time.

However, since the start of this year, it’s been getting a lot better. It’s stress free when I’m sleeping too, so I think I had this feeling I can do something special maybe this year.

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Matsuyama made a hole-in-one on the PGA Tour during the Farmers Insurance Open in January

Matsuyama’s memorable Sunday

I wasn’t striking the ball particularly well during the final round but my putting and chipping worked a lot. The second shot into the 15th hole which ended eight inches from the cup was probably one of the best shots I had. It was 184 yards into the wind, and I executed it perfectly. I had great momentum right there.

On 16, I hit it maybe like five yards to the right of my target, and it became a good shot where it stopped six inches from the hole. It was all good.

I think a lot of times for me, the morning practice session doesn’t really relate to the actual round but I was striking it pretty good before the final round began. Then on the first tee, I hit probably the worst shot of the week but I still managed to make birdie on the opening par-five hole!

Riviera is a very special place for me. I know the owner, who’s also Japanese, and it’s nice to win here. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to take a picture with Tiger Woods, as he withdrew from the tournament due to illness.

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Dame Laura Davies saw enough to believe that Tiger Woods could win a tournament this year despite having to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational due to illness

What’s next for Matsuyama?

I think this latest win is important and I hope to keep the momentum going. This is my first top 10 since last year’s Players Championship – I have good memories of TPC Sawgrass and I look forward to getting back there next month.

Hopefully I also keep my form going into Augusta National in April as well.

Fans can watch Hideki Matsuyama and the best players on the PGA Tour throughout the season on Sky Sports. Stream the majors, PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more on NOW.

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