Golf: Matsuyama refreshed and ready for title bid in 2017 opener

SPORTS

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama says he is refreshed and determined to kick off 2017 with a win at the SBS Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

Matsuyama goes into the competition, between winners of 2016 PGA Tour events, looking to continue where he left off after winning a raft of titles at the end of last year.

"My shots are good and at any rate I want to win this tournament," said Matsuyama, fresh from three weeks off in Japan in December.

"I did not do any practice, training, nothing. I feel refreshed and it was good that I could take time off without thinking about golf."

He did however enjoy round with his father on his return to his native Ehime Prefecture.

"It was the first time since junior high school (that I have played with him) I reckon. It had been a long time but it was really fun," said Matsuyama.

The world No. 6 started 2016 on a high, winning the Phoenix Open in February for his second PGA tour title, before entering a barren run from June to August that saw him fail to make the cut in four of seven tournaments -- including the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.

But his late resurgence saw him garner wins at four of the last five tournaments (excluding team events) he took part in, starting with his first Japan Open title on Oct. 16 before finishing second at the CIMB Classic a week later on the U.S. PGA tour.

The 24-year-old became the first Asian to win on the World Golf Championships series the following week, with a seven-stroke victory at the HSBC Champions, and another Japan tour win came two weeks later at the Taiheiyo Masters before he rounded off at the Tiger Woods-sponsored Hero World Challenge on Dec. 4.

Matsuyama is making his second appearance at the SBS tournament. Two years ago he finished third after missing out on a playoff by one shot.

He arrived in the U.S. on New Year's Day to get ready for this tournament.

"I had too much time off and my body felt a bit sluggish. I wasn't able to hit well within 100 yards of the pin," said Matsuyama. "But I have for the most part got my form back and I think I will be okay from the first round."

==Kyodo

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