ZOZO Championship: Hiroshi Iwata Leads After Day One

Hiroshi Iwata Leads ZOZO Championship
Hiroshi Iwata acknowledges fans after holing out on the 9th green during the first round of the ZOZO Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino CC on Oct 21, 2021 in Inzai, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura via Getty Images)

Hiroshi Iwata opened with an 7-under 63 to secure a one-shot lead after day one of the ZOZO Championship.

The 40-year-old Japanese native finished his first day at Narashino Country Club with six birdies and one eagle against just a single bogey en route to the day’s low round.

Afterwards, Iwata credited his performance on a slight he’d received ahead of the tournament.

“I could kick off with a good score but now I am getting more attention,” said Iwata, who is ranked No. 161 in the world.

“If possible, I am hoping that I don’t get extra attention any more to focus on playing my game.

“A lot happened earlier in the week. Someone asked me if I was a caddie when I was having a meal. Events like that would get you more fired up to play well than someone giving you compliments.

“I don’t want to get into the details but this person was not a player.”

One off the pace was a much more well known Japanese golfer named Hideki Matsuyama. The reigning Masters champion shot a bogey-free 64 to join Joaquin Niemann at T2 on 6 under.

Matsuyama, who opened with a 6 under at both Vegas stops, hopes to avoid the falloff he endured at both the Shriners and CJ Cup where he finished T57 and T69, respectively.

“I’ve shot 6 under the last through tournaments on the first day and I just hope I can keep it going this time,” said Matsuyama, who is ranked No. 19 in the world.

“I shot 6 under at Shriners, 6 under at CJ again and so again, I just hope I can keep the momentum going for the rest of the week this time.”

Englishman Matt Wallace was alone in fourth on 5-under 65, one clear of Brendan Steele (66).

Wallace’s countryman, Tommy Fleetwood, was among seven players tied for sixth on 3-under par.

American headliners Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler were T29 on even-par 70, one ahead of Collin Morikawa (71).

2021 ZOZO Championship

Leaderboard: Top 10

Pos-Player-To Par-(Score)
1. Hiroshi Iwata -7 (63)
2. Hideki Matsuyama -6 (64)
2. Joaquin Niemann -6 (64)
4. Matt Wallace -5 (65)
5. Brendan Steele -4 (66)
6. Cameron Triangle -3 (67)
6. Adam Schenk -3 (67)
6. Ryosuke Kinoshita -3 (67)
6. Jhonattan Vegas -3 (67)
6. Tommy Fleetwood -3 (67)
6. Matt Jones -3 (67)
6. Kramer Hickok -3 (67)

Notables

13. Alex Noren -2 (68)
21. Will Zalatoris -1 (69)
29. Xander Schauffele E (70)
29. Rickie Fowler E (70)
29. Keegan Bradley E (70)
29. Garrick Higgo E (70)
42. Collin Morikawa +1 (71)
52. Ryan Palmer +2 (72)
52. Branden Grace +2 (72)
77. C.T. Pan +6 (76)

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