JAPANESE star Hideki Matsuyama fought to a tied eighth finish at The Memorial Tournament presented by Workday on Sunday to give himself a timely boost ahead of the US Open this week.

The 32-year-old Matsuyama, Asia’s most decorated golfer on the PGA TOUR with nine wins, heads to Pinehurst Resort for the year’s third major with key elements of his game in seemingly good order after closing with a 2-under 70 at Muirfield Village to finish seven shots behind winner, Scottie Scheffler.

Korea’s Sungjae Im also finished equal eighth after a 73 for his third top-10 in his last four starts to set himself up for a strong week at the US Open, which will see Wyndham Clark of the US defending his title.

Matsuyama’s third top-10 at the Memorial, in addition to a memorable victory in the 2014 edition for his maiden TOUR triumph, has set him up nicely for a title challenge at Pinehurst, although he acknowledge there is fine-tuning to be done in the days ahead.

“I’m trying to figure things out a I go right now, and hoping it comes together soon,” said Matsuyama, who remained in ninth position on the FedExCup standings.

He was delighted with how his flat stick behaved all week where he ranked second in Strokes Gained: Putting on the final day where he holed putts of 19 feet and 17 feet on the fifth and 11th holes for two of his four birdies on the card. He also drained a nine-footer on the second hole for par.

With Pinehurst tipped to challenge players with its famed penal course set-up, Matsuyama will be counting on his short game to make the difference as he chases a second major victory in addition to his 2021 Masters Tournament win. At the Memorial, he ranked first in Scrambling, saving pars in 26 of 32 holes including seven of eight during the final round. He also ranked 10th in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens at Muirfield Village.

“Thanks to that putt (on 2), I think I was able to make a few more putts after that,” said Matsuyama, who won the Genesis Invitational in February. “Today (putting) felt pretty good. There are still some nerves there but It was one of the better things from today as well as on Friday. I’ll look back at what I did over those two rounds and see if I can find what I was doing and put that into play for next week.”

Matsuyama has often thrived at the US Open where Pinehurst will be his 12th successive appearance in the major where he holds three career top-10s and only one missed cut. His best was a tied second at Erin Hills in 2017 where he finished four back of winner Brooks Koepka. He was fourth in 2022 after closing with a 65 at The Country Club and T10 at Merion in 2013. When he played in Pinehurst in 2014, Matsuyama finished joint 39th.

With his driving and iron play firing smoothly – he ranked Top-20 in Driving Accuracy and Greens In Regulation at the Memorial – Matsuyama will be looking to sharpen his game in anticipation of a long week at the US Open, and in hope of challenging the likes of an in-form Scheffler who secured his fifth victory of the season by one stroke from Collin Morikawa.

“I’ve been looking for something to click and get things turned around, and just when I think I’ve found something, things get worse. That happened a couple times today throughout the final round,” he said.

“I’m sure it will be a grind (at the US Open), but I hope to play well and have a good result.”