Augusta (Georgia) : Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama’s never-getting attitude has now put him on the hunt for potentially more golfing glory at the Augusta Nationals as the defending champion finished second at 3-under 69. ranked with three others, and five strokes behind world No. 1 American Scotty Scheffler, who took control of the tournament with 67 on Friday.

On a brutal second day, where strong winds made conditions difficult, only 13 players scored, with Schaeffler, who has won three of his last five PGA Tour tournaments, a five-shot lead through 36 holes. He has become the sixth player to achieve this. Masters history with his 8-under 136 in two days.

South Korea’s first-round leader Sungjae Im slipped back after 74 to 141 with Matsuyama, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzell (69) and Ireland’s Shane Lowry (68), while Tiger Woods maintained his fairy-tale comeback . After a serious leg injury, he finished 19th at 145 in a draw of 74.

Only three golfers – Woods (2001, 2002), Nick Faldo (1989, 1990) and Jack Nicklaus (1965, 1966) – have successfully defended their titles at the Masters and Matsuyama has shown tremendous fighting spirit, first at his sluggishness. By overcoming the injury problem, and then producing some amazing golf to raise Asia’s hopes once again.

After opening 72 on Thursday, he got off to a decent start with three birdies in his first six holes and found himself in contention. The 30-year-old, who became Asia’s second men’s major champion 12 months ago, missed several opportunities to go even lower, slipping from eighth place and missing out on his chances to succeed in his two holes.

Whenever he got into trouble, the eight-time PGA Tour winner, who is currently fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, made some equal saves on holes 12, 13 and 14 after a combination of missed greens and a foul. Show smart touch. Par-5 Shot in Rai’s Creek on the 13th hole.

Matsuyama said, “I think I played well. Justin (Thomas), who I was playing with, shot 5-under with ease and he gave me a boost, which resulted in a good performance for me.” “My goal is to play good golf. But it is easier said than done. I will make sure to prepare myself well (for the weekend).”

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Im remained strong in tough conditions to stay looking for his first major win after three birdies against five bogeys.

“I had a few highlights on the leaderboard,” said Im, who finished runner-up in his Masters debut in November 2020.

“The weather was very fluctuating… the wind direction and everything was very confusing when I was trying to decide to hit the shot, some headwinds made iron selection difficult but things didn’t go well. But we still have two more days left.”

Thirteen years after countryman Ye Yang became Asia’s first major winner at the 2009 PGA Championship, the 24-year-old has big dreams of joining the exclusive premier club, but admits he finds golf’s mantra “one shot at a time” To take must be closely. ,

“I mean at the moment, I still have some golf to play and if I continue to focus on my game and hit shot after shot, I think it will bring good results,” Im he said.

“If I win a major championship, it will certainly have a huge impact in many ways, but for junior golfers who are looking up to me and dreaming to play here, it will definitely have a positive impact.” . ,