Another Fast Start at the ZOZO for Hideki Matsuyama?

Hideki Matsuyama, 2021 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP,(Photo by TAKASHI AOYAMA/AFP via Getty Images)
Hideki Matsuyama, 2021 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP,(Photo by TAKASHI AOYAMA/AFP via Getty Images) /

This weekend will mark the first notable event of the 2022-23 PGA Season. The 2022 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP is set to begin on Thursday and it includes a stacked field that features Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Viktor Hovland.

Another name for you to keep an eye on this weekend is the reigning champion, Hideki Matsuyama. This could be a great opportunity for the Japanese star to kick start his season after a slow end to the previous season.

Hideki Matsuyama began last season on fire

In large part thanks to his victory at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. The World No. 19 followed that up with a victory just two weeks later at the Sony Open in Hawaii. By mid-February, Matsuyama had 2 wins and 2 more top-10 finishes, making him easily the hottest golfer in the World at that point.

Throughout the entirety of last season, Hideki Matsuyama had 6-top 10 finishes and only missed 1 cut. For the Japanese star, the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP brings him a sense of comfort each year.

"“The energy that the fans provide really helps out, it helps my game, but on the other hand, there’s pressure that goes along with it. I’ve been really impressed the last couple days; practice days, but still lots of members of the gallery have come out and cheered us on. Hopefully I can play my best and give everyone someone to root for.” – Hideki Matsuyama"

Unfortunately, injuries and bad luck hurt what could have been a career year for the star. After a T-20 finish at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational, a neck injury forced him to withdraw from the Valero Texas Open.

It was an injury that seemed to linger all season, forcing him to also withdraw from the 3M Open just a few months later.

However, there’s hope that the nagging pain is past him for now. When asked about his choice to rest during some events, Matsuyama emphasized the importance of being ready for the big stage.

"“I felt it was the best decision to ensure my neck receives the treatment it needs for me to compete in the BMW Championship and Tour Championship.”"

Want to hear another crazy stat? Hideki Matsuyama had just as many disqualifications as missed cuts last season. Yeah, you read that right.

During the Memorial Tournament, Matsuyama was DQ’d for ‘the use of a non-conforming club’, which in this case was a 3-wood with illegal white paint on the head. Whether or not it was actually performance-enhancing; it was enough for an early departure.

Hideki Matsuyama had a solid finish to the season, finishing 11th at the TOUR Championship. The 2021 Masters champion has yet to win another event since the Sony Open, however.

Matsuyama also had the opportunity to participate in the recent Presidents Cup, the Japanese star’s vast experience was a great asset on a team full of promising young players, such as young phenom Tom Kim.

Next. Fantasy Golf: 2022 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP DFS Player Selections. dark

Since then, Matsuyama will have had the chance to refuel and get back in peak shape ahead of another long and competitive season.

Many hope that Hideki Matsuyama can start this season just like the last, only this time carry on his great form a little bit longer. A top-25 finish at the season-opening Fortinet Championship was a solid start, but it was certainly not enough to derail the eventual champion, Max Homa.