CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Hideki Matsuyama has broad shoulders but is not finding it easy to carry the weight of an entire nation as he seeks to become the first Japanese man to win a major.
Matsuyama started the third round of the PGA Championship tied for the lead with Kevin Kisner but never got into gear, a bogey at the first setting the table for a pedestrian one-over-par 72.
That was still good enough to remain in contention, a stroke behind Kisner, who dropped three shots in the final three holes.
“Probably the pressure had something to do with it, being in the last group in a major tournament,” said Matsuyama.
”But I haven’t been spot-on all week, and the worries I had about my swing showed up today in the way I played.
“I‘m disappointed the way I played today, however I‘m happy to be one stroke back and still have a chance and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Matsuyama is coming off a closing 61 that clinched a runaway victory at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He said at the time he had shot the stunning score despite being uncomfortable with his swing, words he repeated pre-tournament here.
Despite his struggles, the 25-year-old played the difficult final three holes better than his rivals, parring them all to finish the day much closer than he expected an hour previously.
Editing by Peter Rutherford