QUES­TION

New Straits Times - - Sport -

car­ried the US Open run­ner-up into major con­tention yet again.

“I am play­ing well. But whether it’s the best that I’ve ever played in my ca­reer, I’m not sure,” Mat­suyama said.

“I’m prob­a­bly not play­ing as well as I did at the end of last year. How­ever, I’m rid­ing the mo­men­tum from the round that I had on Sun­day and hope­fully I can keep that go­ing for 36 more holes.”

Mat­suyama res­cued par at the ninth with a 22-foot putt, then be­gan his birdie charge with a 12foot putt at the par-4 12th and six-foot­ers at the par-3 13th and par-4 14th be­fore a storm halted play.

“I was grate­ful for the rain de­lay be­cause I was get­ting tired. I was able to lay down in the locker room and get some rest,” he said.

“I think what was mak­ing me tired was I wasn’t hit­ting my driver like I wanted to. I was hit­ting fair­ways but I wasn’t get­ting the crisp con­tact that I was hop­ing for with my driver.”

Mat­suyama said he couldn’t count all his worst shots but said he scored so well “be­cause some­how my worst shots were find­ing the fair­way.”

Mat­suyama, who has kept a new put­ter he switched to last week, mar­veled at his putting as well.

“The greens here are re­ally fast and there are a lot of putts that hon­estly, I’m not try­ing to make,” he said. “I’m just try­ing to get it up near the hole and a lot of them are go­ing in.”

Mat­suyama said he was touched by a congratulations mes­sage for his Akron vic­tory he re­ceived from Ja­son Day, the seventh-ranked Aus­tralian who stands third just two shots be­hind him now.

“I said, ‘Con­grats, Mate. Un­real play­ing. See you next week.’ It’s noth­ing spe­cial,” Day said. “He just said, ‘Thank you, JA­SON, see you at Quail Hol­low.’ But he did put it in all-caps, so that made it feel spe­cial. He has been a good friend for a while now.”

Day mar­vels at Mat­suyama’s com­mit­ment to suc­cess.

“It just looks like that guy right now has his pri­or­ity set on play­ing good golf,” Day said. “Even be­fore he was win­ning that tour­na­ment, he’s on the range and he’s the last guy to leave. He’s al­ways putting. He’s al­ways do­ing some­thing.

“He’s work­ing hard. And I feel like he’s the hard­est worker out here right now, just be­cause he wants to win. And there’s no sur­prise that he won last week and he’s up here again.”

Day said Mat­suyama’s ef­fort has turned putting from a vul­ner­a­bil­ity into a weapon.

“To be able to change that weak­ness into a strength is why he’s so dom­i­nat­ing right now,” Day said. AFP

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