INZAI CITY, Japan – Players competing in the Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf Series should be entitled to ranking points, former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Zozo Championship, which opens on Thursday, Matsuyama called the ranking-point question “difficult” and offered no details, solutions or explanations.
“I think they should be able to,” he said, speaking in Japanese. “But there is a procedure they must follow.”
LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Matsuyama said he stayed with the PGA Tour.
“I’m a member of the PGA Tour,” Matsuyama said. “The players did it because they thought it was the right thing to do. So I can’t say anything about them.”
Victor Hovland also said that LIV players should not be exempt for level point automation.
“If you want to earn world-class points, you have to follow the process,” said the Norwegian player. “And I think they’re obviously trying to get those points, but I don’t think it’s right to free them up just to get points overnight. Obviously, whatever the process is, they have to follow the process.”
Matsuyama won last year’s Zozo Championship — the only PGA Tour event in Japan — with a final-round 65 over Brendan Steele by 5 shots at Accordia Golf’s Narashino Country Club, the same venue for this year.
With a course about an hour outside of Tokyo, it becomes a local favorite. The purse is $11 million.
“The energy from the fans helps a lot, it helps my game. But on the other hand, there’s pressure that goes with it,” Matsuyama said.
Xander Schauffele will likely be under more pressure than Matsuyama, and will also have his own Japanese counterpart.
The American mother is originally from Taiwan but grew up in Japan. His wife, Maya, was born on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, and her mother is from the small island of Miyakojima off the coast of Okinawa, he said.
He said he had a pre-race meal in the Tokyo area with some of his relatives in Japan.
“I think I heard there will be about 30 of us. It will be nice to see all my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins,” he said.
Schauffele was asked exactly how much he expected for dinner.
“As much as I can get out,” he said.
After the tournament, he is heading to the Okinawa area for another family event with his wife’s grandparents.
“I can’t find them,” he said, “so I’m very excited to go and spend a couple of nights.”