TOKYO (AFP) – Japan's rookie superstar Hideki Matsuyama said Wednesday he is ready to impress in his debut at the British Open as he steps up his quest for a US Tour card.
"I will aim to make the cut, first of all. And, if I do, I will then target a spot in the top 10 or higher," he told reporters at Tokyo's Narita airport before leaving for next week's major event at Muirfield in Scotland.
The 21-year-old, the Asian amateur champion in 2011 and 2012, made his professional debut only in April when he started his fourth year at a Japanese university.
But he has since won twice and finished runner-up twice in eight domestic tournaments to lead the Japan Tour's money list at 99 million yen ($980,000), more than double the total of the second-placed player.
Matsuyama also finished tied 10th in his first US Open last month. He is currently ranked 46th in the world and has qualified for the year's final major, the August 5-11 PGA Championships in Rochester, New York.
"I believe Muirfield is a tough course and I will prepare myself well on the spot," he said, adding that he studied a DVD of the course. "It didn't help clear up my head much."
After the British Open, he will play in a few US Tour events, starting with the Canadian Open. If he remains in the world's top 50, he will be eligible to compete in the Bridgestone Invitational from August 1-4 in Akron, Ohio.
After the PGA Championships he hopes to compete in the year's final PGA event, the Wyndham Championship from August 15-18 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
"It is going to be a long expedition," Matsuyama said. "But I want to work hard and produce results in order to get a US Tour card."
He will earn a card for next year if he finishes in the top 125 on the US money list, where he will join fellow 21-year-old Japanese Ryo Ishikawa, who has struggled to make the cut in his first full year on the US Tour.
Matsuyama currently stands around 190th place with winnings from the US Open.
He has played in the Masters twice.
In 2011, he won his first Asian amateur championship to gain entry to the Masters. He finished tied 27th, winning the Silver Cup as the lowest scoring amateur.
He successfully defended his Asian amateur title in 2012 and finished 54th at the Masters.