May 18, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the 2021 PGA Championship here at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We are really happy to be joined by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama. Welcome, sir. Congratulations on your win last month. Terrific, terrific accomplishment.
Afterwards you took some time off and then you came back last week. How did that time off to celebrate treat you, and how was your form as we come into the PGA Championship here?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, after the Masters I went back to Japan. Unfortunately I had to quarantine for two weeks, and then after that I was able to spend some time with my family.
Prior to the Byron Nelson I came back to Florida and worked on my game a little bit and played in the Byron Nelson, AT&T Byron Nelson. Still trying to find my game, but hopefully this will be a good week for me.
Q. I wanted to ask you about that quarantine. Were you required to do that in a hotel? In other words, were you not allowed to be with your family or could you do it at home?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, I was trying to keep my family safe. The first week of quarantine I was by myself in the hotel room. I didn't want to bring them the virus.
But the second week I was in quarantine my family was able to join me and able to spend some time with them.
Q. Just curious if during that week, was there a lot of reflection that you were doing? I'm wondering if there was any sadness at all that you weren't able to share this great moment with them right away.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It was too bad. I wish we could have celebrated right from the start, but in the end we were able to spend some time together and celebrate together.
Q. That first week in the hotel room, did you do any golf drills?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, I really could have done something in my hotel room because it was a big room with a high ceiling, so I went into the closet where the clubs were. I looked at those clubs, and I was thinking about pulling one out, and then I thought, no, not today.
So that lasted for the whole time I was in Japan. I really didn't do much.
Q. What's your take on the 17th hole here?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: 17, all the holes coming in like today from 15 on are really tough, and No. 17 is no exception. I wish they would move the tees up, though, a little bit on 17.
Q. You are a person, a player that doesn't want to attract too much attention to yourself, and after the Masters has that been a big adjustment? What will be the parts that you enjoy and the parts that are more difficult about that attention?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: There are a lot of benefits, and I'm grateful for the attention I'm receiving from the fans. They call out my name and give me applause, and it reminds me of the Masters win, so that's one of the really great benefits.
If there's a downside, sometimes there are people in the lobby of our hotel waiting for me to come down and sign flags and things like that, and that's maybe one of the drawbacks.
Q. You mentioned last month that one of the things you wanted to find out is what Seve would have done in a situation like you were in Augusta. Did you find out, and what do you know about Seve as a player? What do you admire about him?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, to follow up on your question, really before Seve passed away, right before he passed away, he sent me a letter, handwritten letter, that I will cherish forever. One of the great golfers and gentlemen of all time, and I admire him greatly.
Yeah, I wish we could have met more often.
Q. I wonder if you could speak to what the mood is like at home in Japan about the Olympics. It sounds like here there's a lot of -- sort of a movement among the people to have it canceled. I'm curious from your standpoint as someone who would obviously love to play in it in his home country, maybe how disappointing the situation is and what you think of the overall situation.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Yeah, the virus is looked at a little bit differently in Japan than here in the United States. Just look around today, lots of people are here watching golf without masks, where in Japan they're still very cautious. I can certainly understand those people who are voicing their opinion about the Olympics.
Personally I'm looking forward to the Olympics and looking forward to playing, representing my country. However, as a golfer, the four majors are really what we strive to win. Not that we don't try to win the Olympics, but those are the events that are very important.
However, with that said, there are other sports that the Olympics are the ultimate, the pinnacle of their sport, and so I hope that the Olympics will be able to be held and in a great fashion that will make my fellow Japanese citizens proud.
Q. If you chose to, would you be able to get the vaccine in Japan at this time? It seems like the rollout is very slow there compared to here.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It would take more time than here in the United States for sure.
Q. Where is the green jacket? How many times have you put it on since you left Augusta? And how does it feel when you put it on?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: First question, the green jacket is at my home. Second question, I've worn it two or three times. In Japan I worn it once -- actually two. I wore it at the press conference. We had a Zoom press conference in Japan after I arrived. That was once. And then the second time was when I was able to meet the prime minister of Japan, and he awarded me the prime minister award. Those are the two times I've worn it.
When I do wear it, it brings back great memories of winning at Augusta, and it feels great.
Q. Coming back to this week and to this tournament, how tough are the conditions going to be, and what do you do when you play with wind, mentally and with your game?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: This course is one that there are places where you just can't hit it. You've got to hit the fairways and get it on the green. But with the wind, that's easier said than done.
When the wind blows, you have to take into consideration the best place to miss and just do your very best.
Q. This will be the longest golf course in the history of major championship golf. Is that something you think about in the weeks leading into the championship, or does it not dawn on you and you go out there and play what is a long golf course? Does that register for you?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Having not played here, playing the practice rounds the last two days, first time to see the golf course, it's hard to tell the yardage with the condition that we've been playing in with the wind. Certainly holes 15 through 18 today were some of the longest I've ever played.
But during the tournament if the wind blows again, there are some holes downwind, and you have to kind of pick and choose how to attack some of the birdie holes. Definitely there are some holes out there that you can score well on.
But the others when we're playing, especially against the wind, we just have to hang on and just do your best.
Q. I understand you're a baseball fan. What was it like in the last month since your win to have your name mentioned alongside Sadaharu Oh and Ichiro Suzuki as a national sporting hero in Japan. That must have been emotional for you.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I'm very honored to be included in the conversation or people talking about Sadaharu Oh and Ichiro Suzuki, but I'm a long, long way from the status that they have achieved. Hopefully with each day I can work hard and try to get as close to them as possible.
Q. Who's your favorite Japanese Major League Baseball player in America these days?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I love them all. I follow each of them and cheering hard for them. Mariners player Yusei and Dodgers Tsutsugo. They're the same age as I am, and so I've kind of grow up with them through junior golf and they were playing baseball at the same time, so I always kind of followed them, too.
THE MODERATOR: Have a great week here at the PGA Championship.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports