- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) - With every big tournament, Jordan Spieth keeps living up to his reputation as a rising star.

So does Hideki Matsuyama of Japan - even if not as many people notice.

They played together Thursday in the U.S. Open, and each made four birdies on increasingly tough Pinehurst No. 2 for a 1-under 69, four shots behind leader Martin Kaymer.

“I wouldn’t trade the position I’m in,” Spieth said.

Oddly enough, this is the second straight U.S. Open that Spieth and Matsuyama were placed in the same group.

Maybe the USGA was onto something.

A year ago, Spieth had done well enough to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, but nothing more. He had to qualify for the U.S. Open, and his stay at Merion didn’t last long. He had rounds of 77-76 to miss the cut. Matsuyama matched the low score of the final round with a 67 to tie for 10th.

A month later, Spieth was on his fast track to stardom.

The 20-year-old Texan won the John Deere Classic. He lost in a playoff in the Wyndham Championship. He did well enough in the FedEx Cup playoffs to finish at No. 7. He became the youngest American to play in the Presidents Cup. And he ended the year at No. 22 in the world.

Matsuyama, in much more quieter fashion, finished last year at No. 23, and that was no accident. He didn’t even turn pro until last spring, and then won four tournaments and became the first rookie to win the Japan Golf Tour money list. He also played in the Presidents Cup.

Spieth is now No. 10 in the world. Matsuyama won the Memorial two weeks ago and is No. 13.

“He’s got an incredible game,” Spieth said. “Everyone saw it a couple of weeks ago. He’s got it all. I know he had some injuries at the beginning of this year. He’s over them now and obviously back on track where he was before.”

To truly look at golf through a global lens, this could be a rivalry in the making, even if neither of them look at it as any rivalry.

Matsuyama dominated in Japan last year, and now is playing a regular schedule in America. In his debut as a PGA Tour member, he tied for third in the Frys.com Open.

There’s a reason Spieth gets far more attention.

Story Continues →