Brooks Koepka took a little trip to the other side of the world two weeks ago to get a little taste of the Japanese Tour.
All he did was crush the field at the Dunlop Phoenix Open. He shot 20-under par, basically lapped the field. No American television cameras on hand, Japanese yes, none of ours.
That field included Hideki Matsuyama who was not too long ago the hottest player around. Matsuyama won the WGC-Bridgestone last August but then went into the FedEx Cup playoffs and basically couldn’t break an egg. He missed the cut at the Northern Trust, tied for 23rd at The Dell, tied for 47 at the BMW then tied for 26th at the Tour Championship.
In his home country, he shot 10-under at the Dunlop Phoenix, finishing fifth, a distant 10 shots behind Koepka.
This week, Matsuyama was bumped out of the No. 4 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings by Jon Rahm. Matsuyama’s now fifth and Koepka seventh although Koepka apparently has raised the angst level in Matsuyama.
That hurt,” Matsuyama told a reporter from the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”
“I feel there’s a huge gap between us,” Matsuyama said of the current skill level between him and Koepka.
Whatever it is, apparently Koepka has gotten in Matsuyama’s head.
Matsuyama, by the way, is the defending champion at next week’s Hero Challenge. But with the return of Tiger Woods, no one will really pay much attention to Matsuyama.
Stay tuned on this one.