Zozo Championship: Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama one off the lead after first-round 64
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was thrilled to put on a show for his home fans as he fired a six-under 64 to lie one off the lead at the Zozo Championship in Japan. Matt Wallace and Tommy Fleetwood also start well
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 23/10/21 9:28am
Hideki Matsuyama was energised by the support from his home fans as he enjoyed another excellent start to a PGA Tour event at the Zozo Championship.
The Masters champion carded a bogey-free 64 in the opening round at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, although he had to settle for a share of second place overnight, one shot behind compatriot Hiroshi Iwata.
Matt Wallace continued his recent encouraging form with a 65, while Tommy Fleetwood recovered from a poor start to eagle the 18th - his ninth - before holing out from a greenside bunker for another eagle-three at the long sixth in his 67.
Having been denied the chance to perform in front of spectators at the Olympics in Tokyo earlier this year, Matsuyama clearly thrived on seeing the appreciative galleries outside the ropes as he birdied three of the first six holes and added three more on the back nine to join Joaquin Niemann on six under.
But the 29-year-old is wary of the need to build on his high-quality opener having started well in each of his last two starts in Las Vegas, beginning with a 65 at the Shriners Children's Open and a 66 at the CJ Cup only to finish outside the top 50 in both events.
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"I shot six under at the Shriners, six under again at the CJ Cup, so I just hope I can keep the momentum going for the rest of the week this time," said the world No 19, far and away the headline act this week.
"We play in front of a lot of fans on the PGA Tour in the US, but to be able to play in my home country in front of so many Japanese fans, it was a thrill and I'm glad I played well today."
Wallace was just one under at the turn before covering the front nine in just 30 blows to close on five under, with Fleetwood two further back following his entertaining round in which he bogeyed two of his first three holes.
"I struggled a lot early," said the Englishman, who was handed a sponsor's exemption for the tournament. "It was hard, especially the first few holes where I know I didn't have my swing and kind of scrambled it round.
"I was two over playing the 18th, got eagle there and then gave it back with an absolute shocker off the first tee and it was just up and down really until kind of just levelled out.
"But I hit two amazing iron shots on three and five that were tap-in twos on the par 3s, which is a bonus. Then I holed a bunker shot at six and, before you know it, I had a score going, which is great really. So I was happy to hang in early and then get something going in the end and have a nice round."
A resurgent Rickie Fowler, runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup last week, did well to fire a 70 having triple-bogeyed the 17th, while Olympic champion Xander Schauffele was also level par for the opening day.
Open champion Collin Morikawa, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No 3, was three over after just four holes before two late birdies salvaged a respectable 71.