Masters Diary: Matsuyama’s menu of Japanese delights well above par

MacKenzie map for auction . . . Tiger’s new shoes . . . Harrington avoids temptation

With a nagging neck injury to contend with, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama has endured a difficult build-up to the championship.

But he smashed it in terms of a first Japanese themed dining experience for the Masters Champions Dinner.

Matsuyama offered appetisers of assorted sushi, sashimi and nigiri along with Yakitori chicken skewers; a dashi broth of miso glazed black cod; and mains of Miyazaki Wagyu, a beef ribeye with mixed mushrooms and vegetables.

For dessert, Matsuyama had a Japanese strawberry shortcake.

Matsuyama, the first Japanese male winner of a Major, claimed his highlight through the year had been getting introduced each week as the Masters champion: “Then last week in Texas it was a little sad because I knew that was going to be the last time that I was going to be announced as the defending Masters champion. So it kind of made me feel, ‘hey, I need to go out and win it again so I can continue that highlight’.”

The neck injury originally sustained during the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month forced Matsuyama to miss The Players, but he hopes to be "100 percent" fit come tee-time in making his title defence.

MacKenzie’s original plans up for auction

Traditionally with the Masters comes a plethora of auction memorabilia . . . and while signed flags and badges tend to dominate the market each year, online auction house The Golf Auction have procured a rare item this time around.

The item in question is Alister MacKenzie’s original plans for the 14th hole (now the fifth) at Augusta with handwritten notes by the designer, who perceived the hole to be a tribute to the Road Hole on the Old Course at St Andrews. According to MacKenzie’s own notes, detailed on the map, this hole was designed to mirror the 17th at St Andrews.

With a reserve of $10,000, the top bid had reached $16,000 with the bidding set to close on Sunday to coincide with the tournament’s final round.

Tiger will just do it . . . in a pair of FootJoys

Tiger Woods is a Nike man through and through . . . except for, this week, when it comes to his footwear.

Although Woods is contracted to wear the company’s shoes, an exception has been made to allow him wear FootJoys.

As he explained: “I have very limited mobility now. Just with the rods and plates and screws that are in my leg, I needed something different, something that allowed me to be more stable. That’s what I’ve gone to.

“Nike’s been fantastic over the years of providing me with equipment and work, and we have worked, we’ve been working on trying to find something to allow me to do this and swing again. We’re still going to continue doing it, and hopefully we’ll have something soon.”

Until then, FootJoy (metal spikes) it is.

Rain puts temptation in Harrington ’s path

Pádraig Harrington made good use of the weather delay which caused play to be suspended Tuesday . . . by bringing his clubs to the Wilson tour van to get the "lies and lofts done, I'm pretty sure they're correct but we'll get them checked out".

While his clubs were getting a going over, the biggest temptation for the Dubliner – playing in the Masters again for the first time since 2015 – came on sighting a box of Dunkin' Donuts on the worktop. "I'll try not to eat any of these donuts," quipped Harrington, who has been grouped with former champion Mike Weir and American amateur Austin Greaser for the opening two rounds, both of which are morning starts.

By the Numbers: 11

Tom Watson will make his first appearance as an honorary starter, joining Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus in hitting a tee shot off the first tee at 12.40pm Irish time on Thursday. Between them, the three players have won 11 Green Jackets.

Quote-Unquote

"The six inches between my ears is what it's all about for me this week" – Shane Lowry on his intentions to stay disciplined in his course management and shot execution.

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