- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Hideki Matsuyama hoped his play at the Masters would bring some joy to earthquake victims in Japan.

Now he’s going to bring them some help.

The 19-year-old amateur will return Monday to Sendai and join relief efforts in the city that took the brunt of the March 11 earthquake and the tsunami that followed. Matsuyama is a student at Sendai’s Tohoku Fukushi University.

“I think that it will be kind of a refreshing experience for me just away from golf and just to do something different,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter.

Matsuyama earned his spot at the Masters by winning the Asian Amateur last October. He was practicing in Australia when the quake hit and, after seeing the devastation in his city, debated whether he should even come to the Masters. But he decided playing well here was the best way he could help.

He was the only amateur to make the cut, and his 68 Saturday was the lowest by an amateur since James Driscoll’s in the first round in 2001. Matsuyama shot a 74 on Sunday, but a birdie on 18 put him at 1-under for the tournament. His 287 was the lowest score by an amateur since Ryan Moore finished with the same total in 2005.

“There are some hard times right now in Japan, and hopefully my play was able to bring some encouragement to those who are in need right now,” he said.

Being at Augusta National was a welcome diversion for the teenager, and he’ll carry the memories with him when he returns to the destruction and devastation in Sendai.

“There are so many great impressions, great memories from this tournament,” Matsuyama said. “But as I came up the hill on the 18th hole and I heard the applause from the gallery, that just give me chills.”

Meanwhile, Ryo Ishikawa will be donating his winnings Sunday _ $93,200 _ to relief efforts after tying for 20th. The Japanese star announced last week that he is donating all of his 2011 earnings on the golf course to quake victims.


STRICKER’S SCHEDULE: Golf fans will be seeing a little less of Steve Stricker this summer.

Stricker said Sunday he plans to reduce his schedule, playing only 16 or 17 tournaments. The 44-year-old has two daughters, 12 and 4, and wants to be able to spend more time with them.

“It’s just time to stay home a little bit more,” said Stricker, who still lives year-round in Madison, Wis.

This is not a step toward the Champions Tour, however.

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