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With lingering neck issue, Hideki Matsuyama cautiously optimistic after 65 at Memorial


DUBLIN, Ohio – Given his track record at Muirfield Village, a resume that includes a victory in 2014 and top-10 finishes in ’15 and ’19, it should be no surprise to see Hideki Matsuyama’s name atop the Memorial leaderboard. But following his second-round 65, there was a sense of cautious optimism after an injury-plagued year.

“It’s been a tough spell. I had an injury on my neck. Distance is down from where it was. But I’m working through it and hopefully we’ll have a good summer,” said Matsuyama, who led by one shot following his early Friday round.

The lingering neck issue dates back to the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational and has limited his schedule this season. He withdrew from the WGC-Match Play in March and skipped the RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo Championship, which are both designated events.

Full-field scores from the Memorial Tournament

“On Wells Fargo, after the Masters I went back home to Japan, didn’t practice at all, didn’t pick up a club, just tried to rest. I really wasn’t prepared to play Wells Fargo, so I had to withdraw,” he said.

He didn’t appear to have any issues in Round 2 at Muirfield Village where he was fifth in the field in strokes gained: approach the green and posted the only bogey-free round in the morning wave.

His flawless Friday put him in the hunt for his first victory since the ’22 Sony Open, but after a difficult, and painful, year this is where the cautious optimism applies. “I feel great. You never know, though, tomorrow morning,” he shrugged.