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Golf: Hideki Matsuyama off to lackluster start in 1st event since Masters win

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan hits from the 17th tee during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, on May 13, 2021, in his first event since winning the Masters in April. (Kyodo)

MCKINNEY, Texas (Kyodo) -- Hideki Matsuyama got a warm reception in his first round since winning this year's Masters but got off to a lackluster start with a five-birdie 68 that left him five shots off the lead in 54th place at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas on Thursday.

    Matsuyama carded five birdies and one bogey at TPC Craig Ranch, where hometown favorite Jordan Spieth holed a lengthy putt for an eagle on the final green to take a share of the first-round lead with fellow American J.J. Spaun at 9-under 63.

    All eyes, however, were on Matsuyama, who teed it up for the first time since winning the Masters at Augusta National last month.

    "It made me happy that at every hole someone in the gallery would congratulate me on my Masters win. It's a reminder that winning the Masters is a big deal," he said, while expressing disappointment in his putting game, particularly a three-meter eagle putt that rolled a few centimeters wide.

    "I counted on my short game but my putts were terrible. If I had sunk that I would have gotten into a rhythm."

    The tournament, with rounds scheduled Thursday through Sunday, is operating on a 25 percent capacity model due to COVID-19 protocols, anticipating approximately 12,500 fans per day.

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