ERIN, Wis. — Hideki Matsuyama had a solid showing at the Masters in April. Then he stumbled a bit in his next three starts on the PGA Tour.
Looks like he might be back on track again.
Matsuyama vaulted into contention at the U.S. Open with a 7-under 65 on Friday, moving to 5 under and a tie for eighth — just two shots back of the four-way tie atop the crowded leaderboard. The Japanese star matched Chez Reavie for the best round of the day, three shots clear of the next best performance by Bill Haas.
“Shooting a good score today gave me a lot of confidence,” Matsuyama said. “I really haven’t been hitting the ball well as of late. To shoot a good round like today, I’m certainly looking forward to the weekend.”
Matsuyama defended his title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, beating Webb Simpson in a playoff at TPC Scottsdale. He closed with a 67 at Augusta that got him into a tie for 11th at 1 under, but his game dropped off a bit from there.
After tying for 45th at the Memorial last month, Matsuyama arrived at Erin Hills on a downturn in a topsy-turvy season. He shot a 2-over 74 on Thursday.
“After yesterday’s round, I received a couple of tips from different people, and it seemed to work well,” he said.
The 25-year-old Matsuyama, ranked No. 4 in the world, birdied six of his first eight holes in the second round. He made the turn at 6-under 30, just one off the U.S. Open record of 29 for nine holes.
He added another birdie on the par-3 13th. He had a chance to match Jonny Miller’s U.S. Open record for low round in relation to par, but he settled for par on the 676-yard 18th.
“There were a couple of loose swings out there, but when you shoot 65, you can take those,” he said.
Matsuyama played alongside first-round leader Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm, ranked No. 10 in the world. Fowler and Rahm each shot 73.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap