Published April 2020

Shigeki Maruyama

Shigeki Maruyama, nicknamed "Maru-chan," is loved by many people. Mr. Maruyama, who has led the Japanese golf world with his wide popularity and world-class ability, is now 50 years old and is actively engaged in activities that contribute to the golf world ``off the fairway'' as well. These are ``conveying the appeal of playing in an easy-to-understand manner'' and ``nurturing the next generation.'' At The Riviera Country Club (RCC) where the ``Genesis Invitational'' was being held, Maruyama and his old friend Akira Watanabe, representative of the Riviera Group, spoke with him.

Professional golfer

Shigeki Maruyama

MARUYAMA SHIGEKI

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1969. He played well at Nihon University and became a pro in 37 with 92 amateur titles. Nicknamed Maru-chan, he has a total of 10 wins on the Japan Tour, and has been on the PGA Tour since 2000, with a total of three wins. In 3, he won the EMC Golf World Cup with professional golfer Toshimitsu Izawa. Currently, he is active in various media, including as a commentator on golf broadcasts, and as the representative director of the Shigeki Maruyama Junior Foundation, he is also focusing on nurturing junior golfers. At the 2002 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, he served as the head coach of the Japanese national golf team, and will also serve as the head coach at the 2016 Tokyo Olympics. Belongs to Sega Sammy Holdings

I met talented people from around the world
Junior era

Watanabe: I have been personally close with Mr. Maruyama for many years. Looking back on your golf career, what is your favorite memory?

Maruyama: Is this your first appearance at the World Junior Championships when you were 17 years old? Ernie Els (South Africa) and Phil Mickelson (USA) were also at that game. At that time, Ernie was 2nd, I was 6th and Phil was 8th.

Watanabe: When you entered the world championships as a high school student, were there two future superstars there?

Maruyama: I have fond memories of my junior days being able to meet and compete with such talented people.

Watanabe: At the 1996 British Open, I faced off against Tiger Woods, who had just turned pro.

Maruyama: The appearance of Tiger was shocking. That Open Championship was my world major debut. Tiger and I stayed at the same hotel. In that match, I played in the same group as the ``Emperor'' Jack Nicklaus. Seeing the Tiger, spinning around with the Emperor... it's a dizzying experience, isn't it?

Northern Trust Open

Participated in the ``Northern Trust Open'' held at RCC in 2010

genesis invitational

Reuniting with Tiger for the first time in a while at this year's Genesis Invitational

prepare everything
The PGA Challenge

Watanabe: Mr. Maruyama also has three PGA wins. This is an achievement that Japan is proud of around the world.

Maruyama: My first win (Greater Milwaukee Open in 1) was certainly a memorable one. A playoff against Charles Howell III, who was 2001 years old at the time. If he wins this, it will be his first victory in 22 years since Isao Aoki became the first Japanese player to win. I am trying to do something that many of my predecessors were unable to do. When I thought about that, I started to tremble.

Watanabe: At that time, Mr. Maruyama had no enemies in Japan.

Maruyama: To be clear, I felt that there was less to be gained from fighting domestically. The only way to upgrade is to jump on the PGA Tour.

Watanabe: But that comes at a cost, right? There was also a language barrier, right?

Maruyama: I went into it well prepared. He also hired a personal caddy who was fluent in both Japanese and English, and his wife accompanied him and supported him. In addition to this, we received cooperation from many people. This challenge is by no means my only one. Thank you to everyone who helped.

The footprints of our predecessors
It became a teaching material

Maruyama: Even though I had the support of many people, I still felt anxious. The walls of the PGA are high and thick, with outstanding seniors competing and losing. So I'm no good either. There were many times when I thought so. Still, I didn't give up because there was meaning in going.

Watanabe: Pioneer work has meaning just by doing it.

Maruyama: By following in the footsteps of my seniors, I also had the ``strengths'' that come only from being a latecomer. It's about learning from the mistakes of our predecessors. By closely analyzing the achievements of my seniors, I was able to figure out what I was lacking.

Watanabe: Clever golf is Mr. Maruyama's specialty.

RCC suddenly changes
has two faces

Watanabe: The Riviera Group is proud of the close relationship between Mr. Maruyama and RCC.

Maruyama: I have been indebted to RCC since I first started participating in the PGA Tour in 2000. We practice at RCC, go to games all over the country, come back, and practice again. After experiencing a lot of frustration during the match, I tried to resolve it at RCC. That repetition.
If you train hard here, you will be able to overcome difficult situations on other courses. Deep bunkers, slopes that are difficult to calculate, Poana grass, which is rare in Japan... Being able to try everything at RCC gave me a lot of imagination. His steady training led to his three PGA wins.

Watanabe: I would like to see him win at RCC as well. Everyone is still looking forward to it.

Maruyama: The RCC course changes suddenly when it comes to matches. I'm so familiar with normal RCC that I'm confused by this sudden change. RCC shows a completely different face during a match. I want to win at RCC no matter what, but I only get the chance to compete here once a year.
Even though I have been practicing so much, I don't think there is any course that makes me struggle so much. (lol)

Watanabe: Tiger Woods can't win at RCC either, but is the situation the same?

Maruyama: I'm sure so. It's not easy. That's the charm of RCC.

"Power and Speed"
It tastes great on its own

Watanabe: Recently, Mr. Maruyama has been in a leadership position in the golf world, and is also active as a commentator and commentator in the media. He has been a round reporter since the Genesis Open three years ago. Now that there are more opportunities to view golf from a different standpoint than the players, what do you think of the golf world today?

Maruyama: I feel that I have changed considerably since when I was honing my skills aiming for my first PGA victory. Today's golf is all about speed and power. The strongest players are those who can swing a big driver as hard as they can and do the same thing over the course of 18 holes. That's some great golf.
The resurgent Tiger is also playing golf with power. However, in his case, he not only has power but also has delicate techniques, so when it really matters, he can spice things up in an instant. I call his various techniques "seven colored seasonings."

Watanabe: With power + seasoning, we can expect more from Tiger in the future, right?

Maruyama: I think young players who are focused on power should have a little more imagination.

Watanabe: Are power, technique, and mentality important too?

Maruyama: Golf is such a sport. Child-like innocence is also important when it comes to deciding the outcome.

Watanabe: How do you view the Tokyo Olympics?

Maruyama: Based on my preview of the venue, Kasumigaseki CC, I think it will be a power game. What determines the match is the advantage from the tee shot. As the skilled drivers compete against each other, the one who putsts better that day will probably win. In that sense, we have high expectations for Hideki Matsuyama. After all, there is also the geographical advantage of hosting the event in your own country. However, since this is a tournament that brings together superstars from all over the world, we cannot be optimistic.

Watanabe: When I told Tiger, ``I'll be waiting for you in Tokyo,'' he replied, ``I'd love to.'' When I was not doing well, I used to joke, ``Maybe I should aim for a spot on the Thailand national team?''

Maruyama: Thailand? Ah, my mother's country. However, the way he is now, he could very well be on the U.S. national team.

us open

2005 “US Open”

The next star is
Can't grow without funds

Watanabe: Since 2006, we have been making various social contributions as part of the Riviera Future Creation Project, and we are putting even more effort into fulfilling our role.

Maruyama: I am also interested in activities that foster future human resources. We are exploring various options while consulting with the Japan Golf Association.
You may have the impression that it costs money to become a professional golfer, right? I want to overturn that.

Watanabe: For junior athletes who compete at an international level, the cost of travel alone is a considerable burden on their parents.

Maruyama: Many of the top athletes currently active today have distinguished themselves in amateur competitions since their mid-teens and have gone on to become professionals. However, there are almost no children of the so-called wealthy class. The reality is that parents are supporting their talented children, even though they are going through a lot of trouble.

Watanabe: Although there is no lack of public support, it must be said that Japan is lagging behind even compared to surrounding countries.

Maruyama: The power of funds from companies, organizations, and donors is needed.

Watanabe: Sports, not just golf, are dreams that everyone can share. Riviera will also do its best to promote it.

4th Shigeki Maruyama Junior Foundation Golf Tournament

2013 "4th Shigeki Maruyama Junior Foundation Golf Tournament" lesson session

"Practice" and "Dream"
It's important to continue

Watanabe: The golf academy based on the theories of tour pro coach Yuji Naito, an ``ally'' who contributed to Maruyama's three PGA wins, is very popular at Riviera Sports Club. Mr. Maruyama, could you give us one piece of advice?

Maruyama: When it comes to methods, it is important to ``keep doing it.'' I recommend that both beginners and top pros continue to practice half swings.
Open your arms and press the button on the parallel line between 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock on a clock.

Watanabe: Seniors don't seem to be able to roll their shoulders that much...

Maruyama: This training is effective because our range of motion becomes narrower as we age. Continue practicing at least twice a week until your body learns it naturally. Apparently Riviera Sports Club also has a conditioning program like this. It's so wonderful.

Watanabe: Lastly, what is your motto?

Maruyama: There's nothing in particular, but my favorite word is "dream." I want to be good, I want to be a professional. I've always held on to that dream, and it hasn't changed even now that I'm 50 years old.
Chairman Watanabe, right?

Watanabe: Dreams are the driving force behind everything.
Thank you all!

Shigeki Maruyama

Chatting with Akira Watanabe, representative of Riviera Group

Shigeki Maruyama

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