Iwata in virgin territory with ZOZO Championship lead

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Hideki Matsuyama's (T2/-6) bogey-free 64 marked his third successive 6-under first round score on the PGA Tour.
Hideki Matsuyama's (T2/-6) bogey-free 64 marked his third successive 6-under first round score on the PGA Tour.

Hiroshi Iwata, a Japan Golf Tour member, opened with a 63 to hold first ever first round lead/co-lead on PGA Tour at the ZOZO Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama and Joaquin Niemann were tied for second after carding bogey-free 64s. Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Xander Schauffele opened with a 70.

 

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Collin Morikawa, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, recorded a 71. Matt Wallace carded a 65 as he chases his first Tour win.

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The ZOZO Championship was launched as Japan’s first official PGA Tour tournament in 2019. Tiger Woods won the inaugural edition, followed by Patrick Cantlay in 2020.

Iwata (1st/-7) registered one eagle, six birdies and one bogey. Hit 8 of 13 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation.

 

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The 40-year-old has 46 career starts on Tour and played a full season in 2015-16. Holds three career top-10s (T3/2014 WGC-HSBC Champions, T4/2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, T5/2016 Sanderson Farms Championship).

His last start on Tour was the 2017 Wyndham Championship/MC. Holds three career wins on the Japan Golf Tour; most recent was the 2021 The Crowns.

Has registered eight top-10s in the 2020-21 Japan Golf Tour Season. Currently ranked 13th on the Japan Golf Tour money list and 161st in the Official World Golf Ranking.

He made his debut in the tournament after getting into the field on Monday following the withdrawal of Kevin Na.

Niemann’s (T2/-6) bogey-free 64 marks his lowest tournament score; previous-best was 66 (R2/2020).

 

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Best finish was T17 in 2020 when the event was held at Sherwood Country Club. The ZOZO Championsip is his third start of the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season following appearances at Shriners Children’s Open (T40) and the CJ CUP @ SUMMIT (T45).

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Last season he collected five top-10s and made the cut in 26 of 27 starts.

Matsuyama’s (T2/-6) bogey-free 64 marked his third successive 6-under first round score on Tour. He went on to finish T67/Shriners Children’s Open and T59/CJ CUP.

Also marked his lowest tournament score; previous best was 65 during the first and third rounds in 2019.

 

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Finished T6 in the Fortinet Championship for his lone top-10 to date in the 2021-22 season. He is making his third start in the ZOZO Championship (2nd/2019, T28/2020).

Won the Masters Tournament in April where he became the first Japanese male golfer to win a Major.

Holds six PGA Tour wins and eight Japan Golf Tour wins, with the most recent being the 2016 Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters.

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