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Hideki Matsuyama hits from the fairway during the final day singles matches of the 2022 Presidents Cup. Photo: EPA-EFE

Hideki Matsuyama shuns LIV millions, commits to PGA Tour on eve of Zozo Championship defence

  • Masters champion says he wants to continue doing his best on the Tour after being linked to the Saudi-backed organisation
  • Matsuyama weighs in on row over world ranking points, says ‘fine to award them’ to LIV players
PGA Tour

Hideki Matsuyama said on Tuesday that he was fully committed to playing on the PGA Tour, as he prepared to defend his title at this week’s Zozo Championship in his native Japan.

Matsuyama, who became his country’s first male major winner at the Masters last year, will face a field including Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and rising South Korean Kim Joo-hyung as the Tour returns to Narashino Country Club.

Several top stars, including two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and Open champion Cameron Smith have switched to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which offers huge prize purses.

Hideki Matsuyama said he had no intention of joining the rebel LIV Golf circuit. Photo: AFP

The PGA Tour has banned LIV golfers from competing in their events and world No 19 Matsuyama said he had no intention of joining the rebel circuit.

“I’m a member of the PGA Tour – the players who left did so because they thought it was the right thing to do, so I can’t say anything about them,” said the 30-year-old, who won last year’s Zozo Championship title with a stunning eagle on the final hole.

“I am playing on the PGA Tour and I want to continue doing my best here.”

The US PGA Tour arrived in Japan days after LIV Golf held its first US$25 million event in Asia in Bangkok.

The breakaway circuit is smarting from an announcement that players competing in Bangkok and its season-ending event in Jeddah would not receive world ranking points, despite a co-sanctioning agreement with the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) Tour.

The governing body of the Official World Golf Ranking group, which awards points, said it had been given insufficient notice and needed to conduct a review of LIV Golf’s events, the latest chapter in a bitter civil war which has torn golf apart and sparked accusations of Saudi “sportswashing”.

Trousers are out, music is in as LIV Golf sets sights on young fans in Asia

Big-hitting American Bryson DeChambeau, a LIV player, said the failure to award ranking points was “delaying the inevitable”.

Matsuyama offered his sympathies to the players but said resolving the matter was unlikely to be easy.

“I think it’s fine to award them, but I think it’s difficult considering how it would be viewed by the other tours,” Matsuyama said.

Norway’s world number 11 Viktor Hovland said LIV players should not “just get points overnight”.

“If you want to get world ranking points, you have to follow the process,” he told reporters at Narashino Country Club. “At the same time, they have some really good players over there and if some of those players drop outside the top 100 players in the world, that’s not good for the world rankings either.”