Especially after last year’s results, Hideki Matsuyama ought to be licking his chops coming to a venue like TPC Craig Ranch.
A big, wide course where he doesn’t have to worry much about misses off the tee or putting on crazy tough green complexes is ideal.
Matsuyama’s made the cut each of the last two years at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Japan’s top golfer took T-39th (68-70-68-70) in 2021 and T-3rd (67-66-69-62) last year.
He did backdoor his way into a high finish in 2022, but shooting 10-under on Sunday left him only two shots out of first place and one out of second.
This feels like an important week for Matsuyama, who has played good golf in 2023, but not to the standards he’d like. A nagging neck injury played a part in this, which has sidelined him since he took T-16th at the Masters.
He withdrew midway through the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He returned the next week for a T-15th in his Masters tuneup at the Valero Texas Open.
Given the weak field and good course fit, Matsuyama is still a solid choice this week. Just keep your eyes peeled throughout the week in case his health status changes.
The 31-year-old’s short game has come along nicely this season, ranking 12th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained per round around-the-green (.407). Perhaps that’s an easier part of the game to practice given his injury?
His putting is up this year to 75th in SG (.148), so maybe there is something to my theory.