Tournament article

Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters 2019

Ryuji Masaoka from warm southern Okinawa succeed in fighting both the course and cold weather

Ryuji Masaoka, who is on his 14th year as professional ended his Round 2 in a great position for his possible first victory. He is still on the bubble for making his seed for next year, but this chance for the win made him joke around saying, "who would thought I will be on the top?"

Strong wind did get gentle on Day 2 at Gotemba, but instead it got really freezing. It was 10 deg C difference from his local southern Okinawa. At his starting hole 10th, Ryuji had earmuffs and down jacket on. He took off his down jacket as he started to play but kept his earmuffs on until the 12th hole.

His caddy was worried and asked Ryuji "doesn't it bother to have the earmuffs on?", but he made his first bogey right after he took it off.

On his front nine, he had hard time with the coldness and some pressure to keep his good position, and he recalled that "rhythm of the swing got too fast". He couldn't play as good as he did on Round 1, but he has gained confidence on his swing and made a good round.

"I got my shots back from the back nine."
He did have few troubles but managed to play without making bogeys. His 2nd shot on 9th went over the green, but made miraculous lob shot to 50cm and saved par by a tap in. Now he is co-leader with Y.E Yang into the weekend battles.

On his 8th year as professional, in 2014, he made his first seed. But after that he has been on the bubble every year and always says "Oh no, I might end up going to the QT". Struggles to maintain his seed until the very end of the season. He is now at 51th on the Money Rankings, not safe at all from obtaining his seed.

But he gained a great advice from Yuta Ikeda last week, as they played together in the same group for the first 2 rounds at Heiwa PGM Championship. It was small change but made big difference.
"I made my ball position closer to the body, but it worked like miracle. The problem that I had for 6 years disappeared. Now I am getting greedy and want to win. I wish I could play with Yuta on Sunday."