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April 10, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Hideki Matsuyama has joined us here in the media room.

I'd like to welcome you, Hideki, your great performance today. You had shot-opening rounds of 69 and 71, but today's bogey-free round, 65 and some great play, particularly on the second nine, was tremendous. Multiple birdies, as well as an eagle on 15. So congratulations on your performance, and I'll be happy to take some questions. And for the information of all of you, we have an interpreter here, also, Bob Turner.

Q. I understand you were in your car during the rain delay looking at your phone. Were you looking at e-mails? What were you specifically doing on your phone?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Nothing really special. Played a lot of games on the cell phone.

Q. What would you have thought if you were told when you started the day that you would have a four-shot lead when you finished?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I would -- maybe I wouldn't have believed it, but I did play well today. And my game plan was carried out, and hopefully tomorrow I can continue good form.

Q. And how did you play the shot on 18, the third shot?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Thankfully for the rain, I was able to put some spin on the ball and checked up and got close to the pin.

Q. If you were to win here, you would be the first male Japanese major winner in golf; there have been two women, and obviously you'd be the first man. We know your country loves golf, and there have been fantastic golfers over the years from your nation. What would it mean to your nation to win a major golf championship?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I'm not sure how to answer the question. All I can do is prepare well, try my best, and do the best that I can tomorrow.

Q. Xander mentioned that he was speaking Japanese with you during the round. What did you speak about, and how good is Xander's Japanese?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It was really enjoyable playing with Xander today. We didn't get a chance to talk a lot, but when we did, we exchanged some good Japanese jokes and had a good laugh.

Q. You are a two-time winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. How much did that help you to get here and where you are right now?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Playing here for the first time after I won the first Asia-Pacific Amateur, it was a difficult time in Japan because the earthquake and tsunami had just hit, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to come or not.

But I came and fortunately was able to finish Low Amateur, and that experience and that -- knowing I could play with other professionals really gave me a lot of confidence. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the members of Augusta National because I wouldn't be here today without them.

Q. Following up on that, I think you shot 68 in your third round here. Did you feel at the time that this course was a good fit for you, and if so, why, and did you envision then one day winning here?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Shooting in the 60s, especially 68 that third round, it's a round I'll never forget. I still remember walking off the 18th green and Steve Stricker was just finishing ninth hole, walking off the ninth hole, and saw me and said, "Nice playing, Hideki." That's a memory I'll cherish.

And then because of that round, like you said and mentioned before, it gave me the confidence that I could play here. I could play with professional golf as a career.

Q. What are some of your fondest memories growing up as a kid watching the Masters and how did they inspire you?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I have a lot of great memories watching the Masters as a young boy. First time I watched, Tiger Woods was the winner. Another great memory is when he chipped in at 16 down the hill, that putt just going in. I was always dreaming some day I could play here.

Q. You have ten rounds of par or better in this event. What makes your game fit so well to this course?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I'm not sure. And I love playing here, and hopefully I can -- I can make it 11 tomorrow.

Q. Normally many Japanese media follow your every move. Not as many are here because of travel restrictions because of COVID. Does that make this feel any different and perhaps less pressure this week?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I'm not sure how to answer this in a good way, but being in front of the media is still difficult. I'm glad the media are here covering it, but it's not my favorite thing to do, to stand and answer questions.

And so with fewer media, it's been a lot less stressful for me, and I've enjoyed this week.

Q. Can you tell us the clubs you hit in on that stretch, 15, 16 and 17, what did you consider the best shot? And it seemed after the break, you really didn't miss a shot. Did anything feel differently warming up, or was there any different feeling heading out to the golf course?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: To answer the first question, during the rain delay, or right before the rain delay, I probably hit the worst shot I've hit this week. And after -- during the rain delay, I just figured, I can't hit anything worse than that. And so maybe it relieved some pressure, I don't know, but I did hit it well coming in after the delay.

At 15, I hit a 5-iron in.

16 was an 8-iron.

17 was a pitching wedge.

But the 5-iron at 15, by far, probably the best shot I've hit this week.

Q. What do you think has kept you from winning a tournament the past few years?

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: This year's been a struggle. Haven't really played my best. The last three years, you know, there's been different probably reasons why I haven't been able to win.

But this year, starting early in the year, I have a coach with me now from Japan. It's been a great help, a great benefit. Things that I was feeling in my swing, I could talk to him about that, and he was giving me good -- he always gives me good feedback. He has a good eye. It's like having a mirror for my swing, and it's been a great help for me. We worked hard, and hopefully now it's all starting to come together.

His name is Hidenori Mezawa.

THE MODERATOR: Hideki, that was a terrific round today. I think you should be very proud of it. We wish you every success tomorrow. Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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