Matsuyama to make first Masters appearance as a pro

Tue Apr 8, 2014 12:58pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Patience is starting to pay off for Hideki Matsuyama, the lone Japanese entrant in this week's Masters.

While Matsuyama has largely been overshadowed by compatriot Ryo Ishikawa, he is now emerging as Asia's best shot at winning an elusive green jacket.

The 22-year-old has already played at Augusta National twice before having earned invitations after winning the Asian Amateur Championship in 2010 and 2011.

In 2011, he won the Silver Cup as the best amateur at the Masters, then returned in 2012, but failed to qualify in 2013. This year will be his first appearance as a professional.

"I'm thrilled to be back to the Masters Tournament after a one-year absence. Especially to come back as a professional, it means a lot to me," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"My two times here at Augusta National, I was lucky enough to win low amateur one of those years. But it's different this year.

"Coming back as a professional, it's a different feeling, a different type of nervousness."

Unlike Ishikawa, who turned professional at 16, Matsuyama spurned the opportunity to cash in as a teenager, waiting until he graduated from university.   Continued...