Hideki Matsuyama, who tied Japan's best major championship performance by a PGA tour player Sunday with a second-place finish at the U.S. Open, said he is satisfied for now but will no longer settle for second best.
While giving credit to American first-time major winner Brooks Koepka, Matsuyama said his 12-under, four-round score could have been good enough to win and gives him the confidence to consider the possibility of making history at the upcoming British Open.
"What can I say? Koepka played well," said Matsuyama after completing the second of the year's four majors four shots off the lead, quickly adding that he will not let a similar chance slip away next time.
Though he came up short in his bid to claim a long-coveted major title, Matsuyama moved to a career high No. 2 in the world rankings as Rory Mcllroy and Jason Day, who were second and third, respectively, in the previous week's rankings, both missed the cut at the Erin Hills course in Wisconsin.
Defending U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson also failed to make the weekend, but managed to hold on to his No. 1 spot, 4.4307 points ahead of Matsuyama.
Isao Aoki, the man who has long-held the record for best finish by a Japanese man at a major, watched Matsuyama's game live as a TV commentator and did not wait long before he gave his thoughts.
"Matsuyama played good golf. If was as if his hard work culminated in the efforts he showed here," said Aoki.
On Sunday, the 25-year-old Ehime Prefecture native said his goal going into the final round was to get to double-digits under par as quickly as possible, something he achieved with a birdie on the 12th.
His final-day 66 was one shot better than anyone else on course, with some spectacular shotmaking -- particularly with his irons -- allowing him to chalk up eight birdies while only giving back shots on two holes.
When asked if he was able to enjoy the pressure-filled final-round battle, Matsuyama made clear he did not consider it enjoyable, but to anyone watching it was clear he handled the moment like a veteran, belying his short time in the pro game.
"You get nervous if you're in contention for a title in any tournament, and you feel your adrenaline pumping. It's how well you control and play through those rushes of blood that make the difference," he said.
In April, Matsuyama finished tied for 11th at the Masters where he placed fifth and seventh in 2015 and 2016, respectively. His next chance for a major breakthrough comes in July at the British Open in Southport, England.
"I still need to work my short putts, but my (long) game has been showing good signs. I feel like I'm about to reach the next level. I will keep working until I get a handle on my game," he said.