Reigning JGTO money list champion Kazuki Higa remains hopeful of making the cut in his Masters Tournament debut despite opening with a first round four-over-par 76 at the Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday.
“There’s still a fighting chance for me. I’m still hitting good shots and I’m staying positive. The opening round has just zapped me of my energy and I feel I just need to rest before coming back fighting tomorrow,” said Higa.
Playing alongside 2017 winner Sergio Garcia of Spain and American Keith Mitchell, the 27-year-old stumbled early with an opening bogey but made a swift recovery with birdies on holes three and six before dropping another shot on nine to turn in 36.
Higa, who received a special invitation to tee up at the 87th edition of the Masters tournament, then saw his round implode as his prayers were left unanswered on Amen corner.
He bogeyed the 520-yard par four 11, followed by carding a calamitous triple bogey six at the next before making par on 13.
“I saw it (amen corner) on TV in the past and thought it wasn't that difficult. But having played it personally now, it’s really difficult!
“Looking back, I guess it was my inexperience here and making poor judgement calls that cost me those shots today,” said Higa, who then ran off six straight pars to head into the second round in tied-73rd place.
2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, meanwhile, had an otherwise perfect card marred by a bogey on the closing 18th hole, signing for a 71 to end the day in a share of 26th place, six shots behind first round leaders John Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland.
Matsuyama marked his front-nine with two birdies on holes two and nine. He remained steady with eight straight pars after the turn but failed to sink his par putt from 10 feet at the last.
“I couldn’t get my putter going today. I hope it gets better tomorrow. I’ve got an afternoon start and I would just like to take it easy for now,” said Matsuyama.