LAS VEGAS – It was a rough start to their Thursday morning for a strong contingent of Japanese media here at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Their newest star, Hideki Matsuyama, withdrew before the start of the first round.
Citing illness, not an injury, the 21-year-old standout arrived at TPC Summerlin well in advance of his 7:14 tee time. He did speak with members of the Japanese media, but soon left the premises. No details were provided, except to say that Matsuyama felt ill.
Exhaustion? Perhaps. It has been a whirlwind for the young man – a profitable whirlwind, that is. In August, he finished T-19 at the PGA, then 15th at the Wyndham Championship. Back to Japan, he won the Fujisankei Classic for his third win on that Tour, then was T-18 at the ANA Open.
Onward to the Presidents Cup, Matsuyama teamed for four team matches alongside Adam Scott and while they didn’t fare well (1-2-1), the young man acquitted himself nicely, especially in the opening four-ball when his dramatic shot at the 18th wiped out a deficit and enabled the Internationals to at least salvage a half-point.
Matsuyama went right from the Presidents Cup to the Frys.com Open, where he continued his stellar play. A closing 66 gave him a share of third, three behind the winner, Jimmy Walker.
Based on his earnings of $690,473 last year – in just seven tournaments, no less – Matsuyama is exempt for 2013-14 based on being top 125 non-member. He is not, however, considered a rookie.
All is not lost for the Japanese media crew, however. Ryo Ishikawa, now a grizzled veteran at the age of 22, has the 8:20 tee time.
Meanwhile, Jim Herman replaced Matsuyama, in the group with Brendon de Jonge and Kris Blanks.