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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Hideki Matsuyama can make his mark on Ridgewood leaderboard

Japanese ace is one shot back

Hideki Matsuyama tees off at the US PGA Championship
1 of 1

Round two
Sky Sports Golf, 12.30pm Friday

Almost all of golf's leading lights are contesting the Northern Trust but an unfancied quartet lead the way after round one at Ridgewood Country Club with Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark, Vaughn Taylor and Sean O'Hair tied for the lead at five under par.

The first of four FedEx Cup playoff events tends to be won by a big name, however, and there are plenty of recognisable faces just a shot off the pace on a stacked leaderboard.

Ante-post favourite Dustin Johnson carded an opening 67 despite a disastrous eight at the par-five 17th while Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey and US Open & US PGA champion Brooks Koepka are all one shot back.

A victory would prove hugely significant for a lesser name as they bid to make the Tour Championship at East Lake but the pressure is likely to amplify heading into the weekend so the key players look set to charge from the pack with points on the line.

Afternoon threeball punters can consider backing Matsuyama. The Japanese ace was available at 45-1 before the tournament but he has shortened into 16-1 following a strong first-round effort with bookmakers clearly fearing the five-time US Tour winner.

Matsuyama has had a difficult year following wrist surgery but is edging closer to his best, striking the ball well and putting superbly.

He closed with rounds of 64 and 65 over the weekend at the Wyndham last week and making the 30-runner Tour Championship field is a realistic aim for the 26-year-old who is ranked 76th on the FedEx Cup points list.

Playing partner Kevin Chappell is his main threeball rival, but the Californian has rarely threatened a victory this year, surprisingly coming closest to a win at the Open, while Matsuyama's compatriot Satoshi Kodaira lacks the class to go low around Ridgewood. 

H Matsuyama to win threeball
3pts 10-11 BoyleSports

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Matsuyama has had a difficult year following wrist surgery but is edging closer to his best, striking the ball well and putting superbly
E.W. Terms
Sky bet