In November 2017, President Donald Trump played golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played golf together in Tokyo at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East Course, which will host Olympic golf in 2020. They were joined that day by Japan’s No. 1 golfer, Hideki Matsuyama, who kindly agreed to play with both men.
You’d assume, over the course of a round, the two would get to know each other a little bit. At a minimum, they would get to know each’s name and a little bit of backstory about each. (Yeah, Trump is President, but he was a functioning human being with a life and career before then, too.)
It seems like either Matsuyama didn’t make much of an impression on Trump, or Trump simply wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the golfer. That’s because Trump absolutely butchered Matsuyama’s name three times when Abe made his second trip to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida for an April 2018 summit to prepare for a potential one-on-one meeting between Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un.
Speaking of their November 2017 outing in a long, winding press availability which was fundamentally a commercial for Mar-a-Lago, Trump pronounced Matsuyama’s name three times as “Matsa-yoo-ma” as he kept looking over at Abe for approval. Abe didn’t dissuade Trump from saying Matsuyama’s name wrong.
Trump also said Matsuyama was among the top three or four players in the world. While he’s not currently — and Trump is getting flak for this — Matsuyama was ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking when he joined Trump for that outing.
“He’s one of the top three or four golfers in the world,” Trump said. “And I always thought I was OK at golf, but then I realized, we’re not so good.”
Trump then went on to offer congratulations of sorts to Abe as Japanese-born golfer Satoshi Kodaira (Ko-die-ra) won for the first time on the PGA Tour the previous Sunday, taking the 2018 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C., in a playoff over South Korean star Si Woo Kim.
Trump and Abe are expected to play golf on April 18 in the morning, continuing conversation throughout the remainder of the week.