Golf: Hideki Matsuyama still hoping to play Olympic golf at Kasumigaseki

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan poses with the trophy after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the fourth playoff hole at TPC Scottsdale on Feb 5, 2017.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan poses with the trophy after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the fourth playoff hole at TPC Scottsdale on Feb 5, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Los Angeles (AFP) - Japan's world No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama is still hoping a sexism row would not spell the end of Kasumigaseki Country Club as venue for the 2020 Olympic golf competition.

Matsuyama did not wade into the thorny debate sparked when Tokyo's female governor, Yuriko Koike, said she felt "uncomfortable" with the idea that women could not become full members of the club - a fact that has also sparked concerns from the International Olympic Committee.

Amid calls to move the Olympic tournament, Matsuyama merely said he hoped that would not prove necessary.

"There are some membership questions right now, but I played well there at Kasumigaseki, won Japan Junior there, Asian Amateur," he said on Tuesday as he prepared for Thursday's start of the US PGA Tour Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club.

"When I won there, that's kind of what made it all possible, why I'm sitting here today," he said. "So I hope they get things worked out and I hope Kasumigaseki will be the site of the Tokyo Olympic golf competition."

Matsuyama will tee it up on Thursday with a chance to rise from fifth in the world rankings to No. 1. He would need a victory, and even then it would depend on where top-ranked Jason Day finishes.

He will be playing for the first time since retaining his Phoenix Open title a fortnight ago with a playoff victory over former US Open champion Webb Simpson.

It was Matsuyama's fifth victory in his last nine starts worldwide, a stretch that included his triumph in the prestigious World Golf Championships HSBC Champions at Shanghai in October.

"He's been playing tremendous," Day said of the 24-year-old from Japan. "He's one of those guys that goes under the radar, no one really thinks about Hideki too much and then he's always there."