Riviera was special and winning Tiger’s event was my goal, says Hideki

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan lines up a putt on the 18th green during the final round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Getty Images)

Japanese golf star Hideki Matsuyama rewrote a slice of golf history when he became the most prolific Asian-born winner on the PGA TOUR following his ninth career victory at The Genesis Invitational, a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods and the third Signature Event of the season. The 2021 Masters champion came from six strokes back to triumph by three at The Riviera Country Club to break a tie for most wins with K.J. Choi of Korea following a tournament-record final round of 9-under 62.

Player Blog – February 2024

By Hideki Matsuyama

Winning The Genesis Invitational was one of my goals ever since I became a professional golfer. After Tiger Woods became the tournament host, that goal became a lot bigger. You know, reaching nine wins on the PGA TOUR was also a big ambition. After my eighth title, I struggled with a neck injury and there were times when I felt I was never going to win again. I even struggled to finish in the top-10, so I’m really happy I was able to pull off a win.

Before my wins, Shigeki Maruyama had won three times on the PGA TOUR and after I won the fourth one, he told me, hey, you’ve got to pass K.J Choi. I am very happy to achieve this and I’ll definitely text Shigeki that I achieved this goal.

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan poses for a selfie with his caddie Shota Hayafuji and friends after his winning putt on the 18th green during the final round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Getty Images

After my injury in 2022, I was always worried something bad might happen. At Riviera, I had no issues and I played without any worries which really helped. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time. However, since the start of this year, it’s been getting a lot better. It’s stress free when I’m sleeping too, so I think I had this feeling I can do something special maybe this year.

I wasn’t striking the ball particularly well during the final round but my putting and chipping worked a lot. The second shot into the 15th hole which ended eight inches from the cup was probably one of the best shots I had. It was 184 yards into the wind, and I executed it perfectly. I had great momentum right there. On 16, I hit it maybe like five yards to the right of my target, and it became a good shot where it stopped six inches from the hole. It was all good.

I think a lot of times for me, the morning practice session doesn’t really relate to the actual round but I was striking it pretty good before the final round began. Then on the first tee, I hit probably the worst shot of the week but I still managed to make birdie on the opening par-5 hole!

Riviera is a very special place for me. I know the owner, who’s also Japanese and it’s nice to win here. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to take a picture with Tiger as he withdrew from the tournament due to illness.

I think this latest win is important and I hope to keep the momentum going. This is my first top-10 since last year’s PLAYERS Championship so I have good memories of TPC Sawgrass and I look forward to getting back there next month. Hopefully I also keep my form going into Augusta National in April as well.

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