Matsuyama’s historic win at the 2021 Masters

2021 Masters Golf Tournament


Photo by: GolfDigest

Hideki Matsuyama finished with a 10-under par stroke, becoming the first Japanese golfer to win the Masters.

As one of the four major championships to take place in the world of professional golf annually, the Master’s Tournament represents sacred ground. The contest embodies an arena where players from across the globe have the opportunity to potentially carve their place in history. This year, the name that will undoubtedly go unnoticed worldwide is that of Hideki Matsuyama, the first-ever Japanese golfer to earn the coveted green jacket. Though a player of few words, spectators witnessed Matsuyama’s actions wield a great deal of power.

Unfolding in Augusta, Georgia, the four-day-long event welcomed a combination of both rookies and veterans of the sport. Although having made his Masters’s debut exactly ten years prior, at the age of only 19, Matsuyama managed to slip in under the radar. Those projected to come out on top included defending champions Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas according to ESPN. Unfortunately, well-known golf legend Tiger Woods was unable to return to the course in hopes of securing his sixth win as the accomplished golfer was involved in a car accident in early February, leaving him home-bound.

Kicking off on Thursday, April 8, Justin Rose moved to the head of the pack when he took a staggering 4-shot lead that placed him in a prime position heading into day two. Friday’s match foreshadowed the remainder of the weekend, however, as unpredictably set in with Will Zalatoris, a Master’s first-timer, moving into the second-place slot. Shifts in the leader board continued as experienced players began to come up short, giving way for silent talents, such as Matsuyama, to make their presence known. Following the 36-hole cut, an astonishing 50 players remained out of 92. By the final day, Sunday, April 11, Matsuyama underwent a gripping journey to the top. Carrying a four-stroke lead into the final round, the cushion between players continued to evolve. By the 72nd hole, the Japanese native lay ahead of Zalatoris, with Spieth and Xander Schauffele not far behind. As the stakes heightened, Matsuyama attempted to ease his nerves by reminding himself that “the plan today was to just go out and do my best for 18 holes,” he later shared with reporters.

After Zalatoris’s opening bogey and double birdie start to the day, Matsuyama appeared to remain poised and level-headed as spectators looked on. Following the tournament, Schauffele praised his fellow competitor as being “like a robot” while navigating the high-stress situation at hand. To Matsuyama’s advantage, Schauffele made a crucial mistake on the par-three sixteenth hole, his eight-iron coming up short and rolling into the water. Then, Zalatoris teed off at the final hole, finishing nine-under total and leaving room for Matsuyama to still confidently take to the course for one last shot. As millions watched on, Matsuyama conservatively played the daunting 18th hole with the luxury of having a 2-stroke lead. He then secured the win after putting out for a bogey, signaling the end of the tournament and a moment to remember forever.

Receiving his green jacket at the end of the day, Matsuyama’s achievement presented a tremendous breakthrough in the game of golf for the country of Japan. “It’s thrilling to think there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today. Hopefully, in five, ten years, when they get a little older, some of them will be competing on the world stage,” Matsuyama said. Even hours after the ceremony had wrapped up, the newly named champion’s actions prevailed as fans spotted the current Japanese national hero returning home on a commercial flight with only his caddy by his side and the recognizable green jacket draped over his seat. The golfer’s humble manner came as a refreshing surprise as most players of his caliber often celebrate their earnings in the form of private modes of transportation and lavish gatherings. Needless to say, Matsuyama’s casual public appearance was in no need of translation, demonstrating to all his humble attitude despite having just received an esteemed title and an impressive $2,070,000.

Matsuyama’s talent and the actions that followed spoke volumes, surely making his country proud and setting an important example for young players to emulate. “I can’t say I’m the greatest,” he said, “however, I’m the first to win a major, and if that’s the bar, then I’ve set it.”