Hideki Matsuyama has long been on the verge of being one of golf’s truly great players. Even when he’s been left out of the “Big Four” discussions, there’s only been one thing missing – a major title. That could all change this week at Quail Hollow.
Matsuyama heads to Charlotte with arguably the most momentum of anybody on the PGA TOUR. He shot 61 on Sunday at Firestone to run away with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he’s riding a streak of three straight top-15 finishes in elite events into Quail Hollow.
The other two of those tournaments, of course, were the last two majors. Matsuyama tied for second behind a white-hot Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills, and survived a bit of a roller coaster at Royal Birkdale on his way to a T14 finish. The world’s No. 3 player even finished tied for 11th at the Masters, despite opening with a 76 at Augusta National.
There’s hardly a statistic you could find that doesn’t put Matsuyama firmly in the PGA Championship conversation. Quail Hollow is long, playing to 7,600 yards, and he averages nearly 302 yards off the tee. The Bermuda greens will play hard and fast? Matsuyama ranks tenth in greens-in-regulation, and 16th in putting average. He’s third in par breakers, and 18th in scrambling.
With Quail Hollow’s new design and an always-tough PGA Championship field, there’s no such thing as a sure winner. But if Matsuyama is on top of his game, he’ll be fighting for the top of the leaderboard all weekend long.