There’s no sugar-coating it: Hideki Matsuyama was incredibly disappointing down the stretch this past season. The third-ranked golfer in the world came into the FedEx Cup Playoffs in seemingly fine form, winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and finishing tied for fifth at the PGA Championship. But then, the wheels came off completely.
Matsuyama missed the cut at The Northern Trust, then finished T-23 at the Dell Technologies Championship, T-47 at the BMW, and T-26 (out of 30) at the TOUR Championship. That’s not the type of performance you expect out of someone who’s seemingly healthy.
Not much was made of it at the time, but we did learn late in August that Matsuyama has become a father for the first time. It’s certainly possible – and understandable – that a new addition to the family could have taken Matsuyama off his game, but such is the life of a touring pro.
There is a silver lining here, of course. It’s a new season, and Matsuyama should be refreshed after taking this past week post-Presidents Cup to be with his family. And there couldn’t be a better place to come back than the CIMB Classic.
In 2016, Matsuyama finished runner-up to Justin Thomas here, and he hasn’t finished worse than T25 in any of the last four years at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Experience, rest, and a fantastic course history make Matsuyama a contender despite the less-than-stellar finish he had last year.