No place to Hide for Rory
Ben Coley fancies Hideki Matsuyama to outshine his most illustrious playing partners in Friday's second-round three-balls.
- Related Content
Hideki Matsuyama may not yet be a household name but the evidence of everything he's done since turning professional suggests that's about to change.
The Japanese starlet only turned professional earlier this year but already he has two Japanese Tour wins in the bag as well as a share of 10th in the US Open.
Journalists in Asia have commented on how committed he is to the game and the rewards are instant. He simply looks a star and an opening 71 at Muirfield represented a fine effort on his debut in this championship.
It was all the more impressive for the fact that he played alongside Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy among huge crowds, and it's clear to me that rather than be negatively affected by this, Matsuyama thrives.
Of course, playing alongside two star names means winning a three-ball is difficult and he was two shots off Mickelson's pace on Thursday. Accordingly, he's far from a confident selection.
But at 4/1 he has to be backed given that McIlroy's 79 represented yet further proof that his game is not anywhere close to where it should be, and that links golf in these conditions do not suit him one bit.
Of course he's going to be shorter than Matsuyama, but in reality is he really more likely to post a good score? I don't think so.
Mickelson is more likely, but perhaps not as significantly as the prices suggest. After all, he came off the course today in a strange mood, bemoaning the conditions, and it'd be far from out of character were he to go backwards on Friday.
It's a bet with risks firmly attached but a small-stakes play on Matsuyama has to be the call.