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Hideki Matsuyama Aiming to Return to Form at the PGA ZOZO Championship

Although he's been dealing with back issues, Hideki Matsuyama says he's ready to contend for the ZOZO Championship title in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture.

Hideki Matsuyama will be looking to return to form as the crowd favorite when the 2023 PGA ZOZO Championship begins on Thursday, October 19 in Chiba Prefecture.

The only PGA Tour event in Japan, this year's competition at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club features 16 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Matsuyama won the ZOZO Championship in 2021 and will be bidding for his first victory on the PGA Tour since winning the Sony Open in Hawaii in January of 2022. He has gone 13 straight starts without a top-10 finish.

The 31-year-old native of Ehime Prefecture has a total of eight PGA Tour wins, including the Masters in 2021. He withdrew with a back injury from the BMW Championship in late August but says he has been feeling better since then.

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama speaks to reporters on October 17. (KYODO)

"Of course, the goal is to win the title," Matsuyama said after a practice round on Tuesday. "If I can do what I have done in the past few months, I feel I am moving in the right direction."

Xander Schauffele in an August 2023 file photo. (John David Mercer/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Olympic Champ Schauffele Targets a Title

Also taking part is Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele, who, at No 6 in the world golf rankings, is the highest-ranked player in the tournament.

Schauffele, who has family ties to Japan, says he's highly motivated in his second home.

"I'd love nothing more than to get a win for all the family I have over there," Schauffele said before departing for Japan. "Securing a win in what I consider my second home will be the perfect way to cap off the year."

Other competitors include defending champion Keegan Bradley, Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler.

Background on the ZOZO Championship

Tiger Woods won the inaugural tournament in 2019 when Matsuyama was runner-up. Patrick Cantlay took top honors in 2020 when the tournament was played in California due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is a par-70 course measuring 7,079 yards. The field of 78 is treated to the absence of a cut.

The tournament offers a purse of $8.5 million USD (¥1.27 billion JPY) with the winner taking home $1.5 million USD (¥224.5 million JPY) plus 500 FedEx Cup points.

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Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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