• Former R&A Scholar Hideki Matsuyama caps 2016 with third PGA Tour win
• Japan’s top golfer fought off final day challenge from Henrik Stenson to claim Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge
• The 24-year-old rose through amateur golf ranks to become a top professional
Hideki Matsuyama rounded off an impressive 2016 by winning the Hero World Challenge, hosted by his idol Tiger Woods in the Bahamas.
The former R&A Foundation Scholar’s career has continued to flourish and followed an upwards trajectory since he first arrived on the scene as a promising amateur.
Matsuyama will look to carry that form into 2017 as he aims to become the first Japanese man to win a Major golf championship. Here we look at the 24-year-old’s impressive rise to prominence.
Playing golf for Japan
In 2008, Matsuyama represented Japan in the Eishenhower Trophy for the first time. The men’s golf event at the World Amateur Team Championships was held in Adelaide, Australia, and was won by Scotland. Matsuyama competed for a second time in 2012.
Two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Champion
Matsuyama completed the feat winning two consecutive Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships in 2010 and 2011. He recorded a score of 269 (-15) for his first victory in Japan. Matsuyama successfully defended his title the following year in Singapore, signing for a 270 (-18).
Matsuyama studied at Tohoku Fukishi University in Sendai and in 2011 led the golf team to a gold medal at the World University Games, where he also won the individual gold medal. Matsuyama received support from The R&A for two years throughout his university career under The R&A’s Foundation Scholar programme.
In 2011, Matsuyama became the first Japanese amateur golfer to compete in the Masters Tournament, earning the chance to play through his 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur victory. Matsuyama was the only amateur to make the cut and was presented with the Silver Cup as the leading amateur. As a professional, Matsuyama recorded his best finish in a Major golf championship at the Masters Tournament in 2015, finishing 5th at Augusta.
Amateur to Professional golfer
After reaching number one in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2012, Matsuyama finally turned professional the following year. Having already won his first professional tournament on the Japanese Tour while still an amateur, Matsuyama brought his total professional wins to three having added a further two victories within the first few months of his professional golf career.
Following a top ten finish at the US Open in June of the same year, Matsuyama entered the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and arrived at Muirfield to play in The 142nd Open brimming with confidence.
The 21-year-old propelled himself into the top ten after a final round score of 70 to finish tied for 6th place alongside Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods, whom he would then face at the 2013 Presidents Cup.
Winning on Tour
Matsuyama beat Kevin Na in a play-off to record his first victory on the PGA Tour at the 2014 Memorial Tournament. With the win, he moved to a career best Official World Golf Ranking of 13. In February 2016, Matsuyama won his second with another play-off victory over Rickie Fowler at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
After the 24-year-old claimed The Japan Open in October, his first title at his national open and seventh victory in Japan, Matsuyama became the first Asian to win a World Golf Championship event with a stunning display of golf at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Matsuyama capped 2016 by claiming the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last weekend. Despite a determined Henrik Stenson clawing back five strokes on the Japanese golfer on the final day, Matsuyama held on to record a 2-shot victory margin and lift the trophy.