Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is feeling the excitement and pressure of his first Presidents Cup, but is confident he can overcome the tension to help the Internationals against the United States.
The 21-year-old Asian star completed his final practice round on Wednesday at Muirfield Village ahead of Thursday’s opening four-ball matches, in which he and Masters champion Adam Scott, the world number two from Australia, will face Americans Webb Simpson and Bill Haas.
“I’m both nervous and happy to be here,” Matsuyama said through a translator. “Right now, probably the nervousness is winning out.
“But hopefully, as a member of the team, I can hold up my end of the bargain and play well to make my teammates proud.”
Matsuyama has enjoyed a tremendous season, sharing sixth at the British Open and 10th at the US Open. He won the 2010 Asian Amateur title and was low amateur at the 2011 Masters, where he shared 27th.
“He has finished great at the majors, and he’s only 21,” Australia’s Jason Day said. “Everybody is blending together nicely. We’ve played a lot of good golf to be on this team.”
But this will be the first time as a professional that Matsuyama has played four-ball or foursomes matches.
“I don’t think Hideki has ever played golf with a partner before, so this is new ground for him,” said Internationals captain Nick Price. “That’s why I put him with Adam, because I think Adam will give him a lot of confidence and also be a great support for him.”
Matsuyama is ready for the new challenges that await him this week.
“As an amateur I have had some experience with it,” said Matsuyama of the pairs format. “As far as advice from other players, everybody is letting us go on our own. We have all played well this year.”
The team features seven rookies, including Matsuyama, who has enjoyed two practice rounds alongside Scott, who became the first Aussie to capture a green jacket last April at Augusta National.
“Playing with Adam Scott is a dream come true,” Matsuyama said. “Looking forward to it and hopefully we do well.
“We’ve played two practice rounds and done pretty well, ham-and-egged it pretty good.”
Matsuyama has also been helped by Internationals assistant captain Shigeki Maruyama, who went 5-0 in 1998 to help the global squad achieve their only triumph over the Americans, coming at Royal Melbourne.
“He is so jovial and knows everyone,” Matsuyama said. “He has really been able to introduce me to a lot of different teammates and has been a great help to me this week.”