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Matsuyama returns for Dunlop Phoenix

The brilliant Japanese star Matsuyama defends this week. (Photo: Asian Tour )
Japan’s superstar golfer and defending champion, Hideki Matsuyama, heads the field for this week’s Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, the world number 16 defeating Hiroshi Iwata in a playoff after that pair had finished one shot clear of Jordan Spieth and Brendan Jones last year.

Matsuyama has played well in recent weeks although he was forced to withdraw from the HSBC Champions event with a foot injury. He is clearly fit enough to play and at his best he is good enough to win again.

Some of the world’ greats have won this event including Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and David Duval and although there is not that sort of strength in the field in recent times it remains as one of the Japan Tour’s finest events.

Kim Kyung Tae has been a prolific winner on the Japan Golf Tour this season and leads the money list by a big margin. He was 27th at the recent HSBC Champions but on the Japan Golf Tour he has dominated for much of the season.

Kim has not won this event in the past but he has been runner-up and has other top tens to his name. His chances of challenging Matsuyama look good.  

Shingo Katayama has found form again culminating in a win at last week’s Visa Taiheiyo Masters. Amongst Katayama’s 29 Japan Tour titles is a victory in this event in 2000 and several other top ten finishes.

Jimmy Walker has gone off the boil in recent months but is the sort of player who could still do well and Tony Finau and Challenge Tour graduate Ricardo Gouveia could offer more than a share of excitement.

Danny Lee has developed into a world class player during 2015 and although this is likely to be his first time in this event that he was able to make the Tour Championship in the US tells the story of a player on the cusp of confirming the outstanding potential he has always had.

Australians have not had a lot of success in this tournament with only Graham Marsh having won previously. This year Adam Bland, Brad Kennedy, Kurt Barnes, Brendan Jones, Scott Strange, Won Joon Lee are the Australians to tee it up along with New Zealander Michael Hendry.

  

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