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August 22, 2017

Hideki Matsuyama

Old Westbury, New York

MARK WILLIAMS: We would like to welcome Hideki Matsuyama into the interview room at the Northern Trust, first event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Hideki, along with Bob Turner, his interpreter, has had three wins this season, two World Golf Championships victories and is the current No. 1 in the FedExCup stand willings.

So welcome, Hideki. Thanks for joining us. It's been a wonderful year so far and now you're in the Playoffs and you're ready to make an impact in the FedExCup. Just talk about how you feel going in as No. 1.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I never I would be sitting here with all of you as the leader of the FedExCup at this point of the season. But it has been a really good season, great season for me. But it really just begins now because unless I play well in the next four events, I'm not going to be the FedExCup Champion. This is the time that all of us really need to up our games because you need to win one of those tournaments to even have a chance.

MARK WILLIAMS: The last time we saw you was a couple weeks ago at the PGA Championship in contention and ended up having a high finish, but not the finish that you were probably looking for. How has the reaction been to you in your home country after the PGA Championship?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I haven't been back to Japan, so I don't know what the folks back home are saying or have said. But I did play well at the PGA. I had a chance. Unfortunately Justin Thomas played better than I did, and it was a bitter defeat for me. I was really hoping and praying and doing my best to win the PGA. But hopefully I can take that experience, what I learned there, to play better in majors to come, and hopefully some day, that first major will show itself.

Q. How is your game better at this time this year than it was a year ago at this time?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Probably the biggest difference is in putting. I'm still inconsistent in my putting. However, those up-and-downs have levelled out a little bit this past year. And so if there's any difference from my game from last year, it would be improved putting.

Q. Congratulations on your family news. Has releasing that given you any sense of freedom in these Playoffs and make you feel sort of alive and give you another jump?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Of course, happy about the family. But golf is golf. Once we get on the golf course, that's what I'm thinking about. Hopefully I can play well this week.

Q. You said that you don't know what has been said about you in Japan. Does this mean that you don't read the news; you are not aware about that? So keeping your private life in silence, was it choose or because you don't want to hear about it in the news? You don't want to have your private life written, maybe?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I do read some news on Internet, what's going on in Japan. So I do have a little bit of a feel for what's going on but I haven't been back.

As far as the family and privacy, no one really asked me if I was married, or, you know, so I didn't have to answer that question. But I felt that after the PGA would be a good time, because our baby is born and I thought that would be a good time to let everyone know.

Q. As the No. 1 ranked player in the FedExCup standings, do you feel like there's somewhat of a target on your back, and how often will you be checking your place in the standings to make sure you stay inside that top five going into East Lake?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Of course I want to be in the top 5 going into THE TOUR Championship. That's my goal. But reaching my goals, the best way to do that is just to play well, and so I won't worry a lot about where I stand in the FedExCup standings until after probably BMW and heading into the Tour championship. Again, I found that if I play well, everything will take care of itself and I won't have to check the standings too much.

Q. Curious if you've had play the course yet, and if not, what are your impressions from other people or just seeing it out there?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I only played the back nine so far. I really like this golf course. The greens are undulated, and in order to play well here and to score well, you're going to have to putt well. I like the fairways aren't as narrow as some of the courses we've played recently. But the greens are poa annua greens, so that will be challenging for me.

Q. At the end of this four-tournament Playoff run is the Presidents Cup. What were your emotions after the close loss last time and how important is it for the International Team to win?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, it was a tough defeat in Korea. It still stings. But the International Team hasn't won The Presidents Cup since '98. 1998 was the last win. I played the last two Presidents Cups and have come up short each time. Both of them, you know, it hurts, and so I'm going to do all I can to help the International Team to change that and to hopefully bring home the Cup for Captain Nick Price.

But right now I have these four events that are most important to me and hopefully through these four events I can become better prepared for a good Presidents Cup.

Q. As someone in the running potentially for Player of the Year this year, how important is your play over the four Playoff events, and the play of others over the four Playoff events in terms of getting the vote?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I haven't really thought about Player of the Year. All I'm focused on right now is to become FedExCup Champion and let everything else take care of itself.

Q. Back to The Presidents Cup, Nick Price has said he will go to the players specifically to ask for help in making his picks. Do you have anyone you would endorse specifically?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: You know, there is someone that I hope to be able to play with. I told Captain Nick about it, and hopefully I'll be able to play with him.

Q. There's a video of you throwing a really good curveball. What's your baseball background, what level did you play, and when you're in the New York area, have you ever taken in a Yankees or a Mets game? Is there anything else do you in the New York area when you're here?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: As far as baseball, I've never played organized baseball, just catch.

Coming to New York, what I like to do -- well, last year in Boston, I was able to take in a Red Sox game. Hopefully before going to Boston this time, hopefully the Yankees or the Mets will be in town and I can watch one of them play.

Q. I saw your caddie with a few putters, maybe four or five. Can you describe your putting right now and do you think this is going to take you to bigger step?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I wish I knew which putter I was going to use. That's why I have five (laughter).

So probably Thursday morning, the caddie will take five of those putters to the first tee and then I'll choose one.

MARK WILLIAMS: Hideki, we appreciate you coming in. Thank you for your time.

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