Iwata leads Zozo Championship, home favourite Matsuyama well poised

By Sports Desk October 21, 2021

Hiroshi Iwata holds a one-shot lead and Hideki Matsuyama also made a promising start to the Zozo Championship on home soil.

Appearing in a PGA Tour event for the first time since the 2017 season, Iwata got off to a flyer with a seven-under 63 at the Narashino Country Club on Thursday.

The 40-year-old went out in 32 and finished his round with an eagle three to top the leaderboard after making four birdies and just the one bogey on the back nine.

Matsuyama is just a shot off the lead following a blemish-free first round of 64 in the Tokyo suburbs, where the tournament could not be staged last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Masters champion started with two birdies in the opening three holes and moved to three under with another gain at the sixth, before making another three birdies after the turn.

Joaquin Niemann also shot a bogey-free 64 to take a share of second place with home favourite Matsuyama.

Englishman Matt Wallace is just two strokes off the lead, having dropped a couple of shots on the back nine.

World number three Collin Morikawa has work to do following an opening one-over 71, a stroke behind Ryder Cup team-mate Xander Schauffele.

Related items

  • US PGA Championship: Woods 'a lot stronger' since Masters comeback US PGA Championship: Woods 'a lot stronger' since Masters comeback

    Tiger Woods says he got "a lot stronger" since making an incredible comeback at The Masters as he prepares for the US PGA Championship this week.

    The 15-time major champion returned to action at Augusta 15 months after he was involved in a car accident that left him with serious leg and foot injuries.

    Woods almost lost a leg in that crash, but made the cut in the first major of the year before falling away to finishing 47th.

    The legendary American has not played in a tournament since then and says he was understandably in pain after four rounds in Georgia.

    Woods is feeling much better as he gears up for another major at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

    He said: "I've gotten a lot stronger since the Masters. We went back to work on Tuesday [after the Masters]. Monday was awful. I did nothing and Tuesday was leg day. So, we went right back after it."

    Woods knows he will never be fully mobile after such a horrific accident.

    "Am I ever going to have full mobility? No. Never again," Woods said.

    "But I'll be able to get stronger. It's going to ache, but that's the way it's going to be

    "I'm excited about [the US PGA]. I'm not going to play that much going forward, so anytime I do play, it's going to be fun to play and to compete. There are only so many money games you can play at home."

    Joe LaCava, Woods' caddie, also provided an encouraging assessment of one of the all-time greats' condition.

    "I think the endurance is there now. I don't think he's getting quite as tired as quickly." he said.

    "Other than the fact he won here 15 years ago, I think it's the stamina and endurance thing that excites him the most."

  • Lee Kyoung-hoon wins second consecutive AT&T Byron Nelson title Lee Kyoung-hoon wins second consecutive AT&T Byron Nelson title
  • Horsfield lands Soudal Open title after fending off Fox Horsfield lands Soudal Open title after fending off Fox

    Sam Horsfield scooped the third title of his DP World Tour career as the Englishman triumphed at the Soudal Open in Belgium.

    The 25-year-old won two tournaments in three weeks in August 2020, and a closing three-under-par 68 at Antwerp's Rinkven International course gave him a two-shot triumph on Sunday.

    Horsfield, who has spent much of his life living in the United States, has only recently returned to action after a three-month injury lay-off and this was just his second event on tour since January.

    He looked sharp regardless of that long spell of inactivity, and it was a thrill to get over the line and clinch another trophy.

    Horsfield battled playing partner Ryan Fox of New Zealand over the closing 18 holes, with Fox's challenge falling away as he made three bogeys in the closing six holes to finish with a 71.

    At 13 under par for the week, Horsfield finished two shots clear of Fox and Germany's Yannik Paul, who shared second place. Paul finished with a round of 69, made up of two birdies and 16 pars.

    Horsfield said of the victory moment: "I was trying not to cry while I was over that little tap-in."

    His girlfriend, Issi Bryon, has taken on bag duties in the absence of Horsfield's regular caddie, Mick Seaborn, this week. Horsfield on Saturday said his caddie had been "going through a tough time".

    "Having Issi on the bag, it's been an amazing week," Horsfield said. "Mick's not here but I wish he was. I was able to do it for him and I'm so, so happy."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.