Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe play round of golf in Japan
The leaders were joined on the course by world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama
With a round of golf followed by a plate of hamburgers, President Donald Trump’s maiden diplomatic visit to Asia began with at least some semblance of home.
Trump hit the course Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and world No. 4 golfer Hideki Matsuyama, playing nine holes before retiring to the clubhouse.
“Two wonderful people!” Trump tweeted, along with a video of his swing.
“A round of golf with a marvelous friend,” posted Abe, adding their time on the greens had been “full of spirited conversation.”
The controversial Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama Prefecture provided the setting, just eight months after voting to admit women as full members for the first time.
Close allies that chat frequently on the phone, Trump and Abe later posed for photos holding aloft white and gold caps embroidered with the message: “Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater.”
Trump has already played golf with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and women’s world No. 3 Lexi Thompson during his nine-month tenure.
But he had particularly lofty praise for Matsuyama, who had branded it “an honor” to be given the opportunity to take to the course with the US President.
“[Matsuyama] is the greatest player in the history of Japan,” Trump told reporters. “Possibly their greatest celebrity … He’s a truly great player, a great athlete.”
The publicity shy 25-year-old, who finished second in June’s US Open, averaged 303 yards off the tee last season.
It was enough for for Trump to call him a “long ball hitter,” adding: “If I come back and say I was longer than him, don’t believe it.”
A senior Trump administration official said that Matsuyama and the two leaders didn’t keep score during their stroll across the fairways.
Meanwhile, it isn’t clear whether the American President used the $3,755 gold-plated driver given to him by Abe last year.
As tensions escalate over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Trump’s tour Asia encompasses visits to five nations over 13 days.
Up next? A trip to Seoul and a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.