Matsuyama in action today – photo Getty Images
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has not won an event on the PGA Tour in early three years but after his opening round of 63 at Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida today, there was every reason to believe that the drought might end in the game’s richest event.
The joy of his brilliant effort on day one at the TPC Sawgrass was short lived, however, as, after much soul searching and consternation, the PGA Tour has now made the decision to cancel the event due to the issues surrounding the Corona Virus.
All events on the PGA Tour’s schedule including not only those of the PGA Tour but those of the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA Tour Champions and the PGA Tour Latino America will be cancelled until the Masters in early April.
“It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship,” read a statement issued by the PGA Tour late on Thursday evening Florida time.
“We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open.
“We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.
“But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.”
A meeting early on Friday morning will reveal more on this decision but, clearly, after initially making the decision to play the final 54 holes without fans being allowed into the Stadium Course, the more impactful decision became necessary.
Matsuyama, who has been showing a return to some of his best form of late, began and finished his round in style. He opened with four consecutive birdies and then holed a lengthy eagle put at his last hole (the 9th) for his 9 under par round and finished the day two ahead of Harris English, Christian Bezuidenhout and former champion Si Woo Kim.
“I have a lot of confidence now in my swing, and last week was a tough week at Bay Hill, but today I made some putts and that seems to be the difference of late and that was really the catapult to me to have a good round,” said Matsuyama whose round equaled the course record.
Marc Leishman headed the Australians after his round of 67 had him in a share of 5th but all to no avail although given his mediocre record in the event to date it was an encouraging start.
“Golf’s a funny game,” said Leishman before the decision to cancel the event was made. “Always something new. I only had one top-10 here, I had an 8th. I don’t know, not sure what it is. Just hopefully I can keep doing what I’m doing and do better than the past.”
Adam Scott recovered from a slow start to be home in 32 for a round of 70 to be tied with Matt Jones as the next best of the Australians.
And so for players on the PGA Tour there will be no competitive golf ahead of the Masters beginning on March 9th and that, of course, providing the Masters is unaffected by the drama impacting the world at present.