Matsuyama aiming for Masters history

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Hideki Matsuyama is in a confident mood as he aims to become the first Japanese player to win the Masters this week. 

Matsuyama had a brilliant showing at the Masters last year as he finished fifth following a six-under-par 66 in the final round. 

Having triumphed at the Phoenix Open in February and posted top 10 finishes at the CIMB Classic in January and the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month, the 24-year-old feels he is now ready for the first major of the year. 

“As far as confidence, I've been playing well and am really looking forward to a good tournament,” Matsuyama told the official Masters website via an interpreter. “It's Monday, still early in the week, but I'm going to give it my best shot.”

Matsuyama will be playing in his fifth Masters and is hoping to make full use of his prior experience at Augusta National when the tournament begins on Thursday. 

“I am younger than some of the other players in the field, but Augusta National Golf Club has given me the opportunity to play many times here, which I'm grateful for,” he said. “Hopefully that will pay off. I've still got a lot of work to do (on my game), but nothing major that I can't fix before Thursday's first round.”

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo has said that he believes that Matsuyama is not out of the running to win his first major, but will need to be at the top of his game if he is to get the better of the likes of world number one Jason Day, who has triumphed in his last two tournaments, defending champion Jordan Spieth, and Bubba Watson, who won the event in 2012 and 2014. 

“He's got an outside shot,” Faldo said. “There are probably half a dozen strong favorites and a pack of about another 10 guys who probably have a good chance this week.

“I'd put his name in [the second group]. He's really solid, does everything so well. The bottom line is, ‘What's your weakest point?' That's the biggest test this week.”