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
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)
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)