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Hideki Matsuyama trying to return to winning form

AKRON, Ohio -- After winning six tournaments in 20 worldwide starts last year to contend for No. 1 in the world, Hideki Matsuyama returns to this World Golf Championship this week having fallen to No. 16 in the rankings.

"I started out the new season and I really haven't played that well," said Matsuyama, who is No. 86 in the FedEx Cup standings with only three tournaments left before the start of the tour's postseason. "I've been grinding and practicing hard. Hopefully, this will be a week that I can catch the magic again and play well."

Matsuyama, 26, shot 61 on the final day at Firestone last year to win the Bridgestone Invitational. The following week, he nearly won the PGA Championship until Justin Thomas overtook him on the back nine.

That was his last good chance to win a tournament.

In his four years on the PGA Tour, the Japanese star has never missed the Tour Championship.

"I have some work to do," Matsuyama said. "I've never been in this position before, and so I'll have to get on my game and play well these last couple of weeks. Hopefully, it will carry through to the Tour Championship."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.