Olympic hopeful Matsuyama returns to Kasumigaseki, where his journey to stardom began

Japan Mens and Women’s Olympic golf teams pose for a photo prior to the Men’s Individual Stroke Play event on Day 5 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR/IGF)

Tokyo, July 25: Home hero Hideki Matsuyama “can’t wait” to launch his quest for a prized gold medal for Japan when the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s golf competition gets underway on Thursday.

For the 29-year-old Matsuyama, a return to Kasumigaseki Country Club brings back happy memories for Matsuyama, who won the 2009 Japan Junior and 2010 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) there. It was also the site of Japan’s famous victory in the 1957 Canada Cup, the precursor to the World Cup which sparked a golf boom in the country.

Matsuyama will forever be grateful for his success at the AAC as his five-stroke win was only achieved after he got into the field when Japan received additional slots as host nation. “Winning the 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship gave me the opportunity to play in the Masters Tournament. Making the cut that week helped me realize I could actually have a career playing golf,” he said previously.

Matsuyama was in a relaxed mood as he took time out from his preparation at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Sunday to pose for team photos with fellow male compatriot Rikuya Hoshino, and the Japanese women’s duo of Nasa Hataoka and Mone Inami.

Standing in front of the famous Olympic rings at the fabled venue, the six-time PGA TOUR winner will carry his nation’s golden hopes just three months after securing his historic Masters Tournament triumph where he became the first male major winner from Japan.

“Finally, the Olympic Games will begin soon. I will brace myself and I hope I can deliver a good performance,” said Matsuyama.

While his lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics hit a slight road bump after he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 2, Matsuyama said he will be ready to take on the stellar field that is assembling at Kasumigaseki.

“When I got infected with COVID-19 in the U.S., I could not really practice. But since I came back, I have been able to practice gradually, so I can’t wait to tee up in the competition,” said Matsuyama. “My condition has been getting better and I am looking forward to the Olympic Games.”

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