Hideki Matsuyama was going to need a really big effort to win this week’s Tour Championship. With the format that the PGA Tour adopted for the FedEx Cup playoffs, Matsuyama found himself nine shots behind leader Patrick Cantlay before play would ever begin.
For Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, it would take a Herculean effort just to get into contention. But after Thursday’s first round, it’s apparent that no such thing is going to happen for Matsuyama this week.
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Matsuyama did not have his best from the very beginning of the day. He did par the opening hole before running into his first trouble of the day.
At the par-3 second hole, Matsuyama hit his tee shot into a greenside bunker. He pitched out to about 10 feet but missed his par putt. He was 1-over on his round and would not see even par or better the rest of the day.
After a par at the third hole, Matsuyama ran into more trouble at the par-4 fourth hole. His drive went way right and his second shot came up short and stopped in a bunker. This time, he pitched to about 20 feet. Again, he missed the putt and suffered a bogey.
Matsuyama would par the next three holes before closing his front nine with bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes. He shot a 4-over par 39 on his first nine.
Things went from bad to worse for Matsuyama after that.
On the par-4 10th hole, he pulled his drive way left. He barely advanced his second shot, then pitched back into the fairway with his third. His fourth shot came up just short of the green and he pitched on in five. His 12-foot putt for double bogey missed and he suffered a triple bogey seven. He was 7-over at that point and his day was finished.
Matsuyama would close with a 7-over par 77 on the day and he’s in 30th (last) place through one round of play. And any hopes of making a heroic run at the title this week are gone.