Golf: Japan rookie pro Matsuyama aims to finish high at US Open

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's rising golf star Hideki Matsuyama, who has won two of the domestic tour's five events so far this year, believes he has a good chance to finish high at next week's US Open.

"I have this image that the US Open is quite tough," the 21-year-old Japan Tour leader, who turned professional only in April, told reporters before leaving Tokyo for the major tournament to be held in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

But he recalled that fellow Japanese Koki Idoki, 51, became the first Asian to win a senior major tournament when he triumphed at the Senior PGA Championship on May 26 in his first trip to the United States.

"I think I have such a possibility too. I set my target to make the cut, first of all, and then aim for a high spot," said the fourth-year university student, who has played in two Majors - the US Masters in 2011 and 2012.

"Honestly speaking, I don't have much confidence.

"I want to learn a lot because it will be the first time for me out there."

He won the Asian amateur championship in 2011 to gain entry to the Masters as the first non-professional from Japan to play the prestigious tournament, just weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami ravaged his city of Sendai.

But he finished tied 27th, winning the Silver Cup as the lowest-scoring amateur.

In 2012, he retained his Asian amateur title, winning a spot at the Masters, where he finished 54th.

Matsuyama, who plans to follow the example of Japanese star and fellow 21-year-old Ryo Ishikawa to become a US Tour regular, has also finished runner-up twice so far this year on the domestic tour.

He has qualified for the 2013 US Open by topping the 36-hole qualifying session in Japan in late May. But Ishikawa failed to qualify in one of the sectional qualifying sessions in the US.

"My condition is not quite right," said Matsuyama, who had limited time to rest after winning the Diamond Cup last Sunday for his third Japan Tour victory. He also won the prestigious Taiheiyo Masters in 2011 as an amateur.

"But I think I'll be all right with the time difference. I don't have any problem with food.

"I imagine the course is set tough. I think it will be important to keep the ball on the fairways."

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