Hideki Matsuyama made historical past on Sunday as the primary male golfer from Japan to win a serious championship.
Ten years after making a sterling debut as the most effective newbie at Augusta Nationwide, Matsuyama claimed the last word trophy with a victory within the Masters.
Matsuyama, 29, closed with a 1-over 73 and a 1-shot victory that was shut solely on the finish and was by no means severely unsure after Xander Schauffele‘s late cost ended with a triple bogey on the par-3 sixteenth.
Moments earlier than Dustin Johnson helped him into the inexperienced jacket, Matsuyama wanted no interpreter in Butler Cabin when he mentioned in English, “I am actually completely happy.”
So masterful was this efficiency that Matsuyama stretched his result in 6 pictures on the again 9 till a number of moments of drama. With a 4-shot lead, he went for the inexperienced in two on the par-5 fifteenth, and the ball bounded exhausting off the again slope and into the pond on the sixteenth gap.
Matsuyama did nicely to stroll away with a bogey, and with Schauffele making a fourth straight birdie, the lead was all the way down to 2 pictures with three to play.
The following swing all however ended it. Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-3 sixteenth bounced off the hill and dribbled into the pond. His third shot from the drop space went into the gallery. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.
By no means thoughts that Matsuyama bogeyed three of his final 4 holes to develop into the primary Masters champion with a last spherical over par since Trevor Immelman shot 75 in 2008.
All that mattered was that uphill stroll to the 18th inexperienced, needing solely to blast out of the bunker and take two putts for the victory.
And that is what he did, soaking within the second with a number of thousand spectators on their ft to rejoice a career-changing second.
“Hopefully, I will be a pioneer and plenty of different Japanese will comply with,” Matsuyama mentioned.
Making Japan proud Hideki. Congratulations on such an enormous accomplishment for you and your nation. This historic @TheMasters win will influence all the golf world.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 11, 2021
Will Zalatoris, the 24-year-old Masters rookie, holed an 18-foot par putt on the final gap for a 70 and was runner-up. It was the most effective efficiency by a first-timer to the Masters since one other Dallas child, Jordan Spieth, was runner-up in 2014 to Bubba Watson.
Spieth had a number of fleeting ideas of coming from 6 pictures behind aside from too many missed putts early and missed alternatives late. He bogeyed his final gap for a 70 and tied for third with Schauffele, who shot a 72 with a triple bogey and a double bogey on his card.
Matsuyama completed at 10-under 278 for his fifteenth victory worldwide, and his sixth on the PGA Tour.
He was removed from a positive factor, closing at 40-1 to win the event at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Matsuyama might be discovered upward of 60-1 previous to the event at some sportsbooks, making him one of many largest lengthy pictures to win the Masters since Danny Willett in 2016.
Matsuyama was not a preferred alternative for bettors, both. As of Thursday, he accounted for only one% of the cash that had been wagered on the chances to win the Masters at William Hill sportsbooks.
Returning to the 18th inexperienced for the trophy presentation, Matsuyama once more placed on the inexperienced jacket and raised each arms in triumph. Augusta Nationwide allowed restricted spectators, believed to be about 8,000 a day, and most may need remembered him from a decade in the past.
He gained the Asia-Pacific Newbie to earn an invite to the Masters, and he was low newbie — tied with defending champion Phil Mickelson that 12 months — to earn a visit into famed Butler Cabin. He gained in Japan as an newbie, and 4 instances after he graduated faculty and turned professional. His first PGA Tour victory was on the Memorial in 2014, prompting event host Jack Nicklaus to say, “I feel you have simply seen the beginning of what is going on to be really one in all your world’s nice gamers over the following 10 to fifteen years.”
That second got here Sunday.
Matsuyama is just not huge on emotion, and he speaks even much less when cornered after each spherical by the massive contingent of Japanese media.
Many of the media was absent this 12 months because of COVID-19 journey restrictions, and Matsuyama had mentioned on the eve of the ultimate spherical that there had been quite a bit much less stress.
There was lots on the golf course, proper from the beginning.
Matsuyama despatched his opening tee shot into the timber proper of the primary fairway. He punched it underneath the timber from the pine straw, hit a tender pitch that rolled down the slope away from the pin and was completely happy to depart with bogey. Two teams forward of him, Zalatoris opened with two straight birdies.
Identical to that, the lead was all the way down to a single shot.
Nobody received any nearer till the ultimate hour. Matsuyama made birdie from the entrance bunker on the par-5 second gap. He did not make one other birdie till the par-5 eighth, and it did not matter as a result of nobody might put any stress on him.
Zalatoris misjudged the pace on No. 3 and three-putted for bogey from simply off the again of the inexperienced. Schauffele was inside 3 pictures of the lead going to the third gap, solely to go bogey-bogey-double bogey on the hardest three-hole stretch on the course.
Matsuyama delivered what gave the impression to be a knockout punch with a nifty up-and-down from proper of the inexperienced on the eighth for a tap-in birdie, and a lob wedge to the harmful left pin on the ninth that rolled out to three ft. That despatched him to the again 9 with a 5-shot lead.
For the longest time, it appeared as if Matsuyama could not wait to get to Butler Cabin and see how he appeared in inexperienced.
Schauffele, nonetheless, rammed in a 20-foot birdie putt from behind the twelfth inexperienced. He two-putted from 10 ft for birdie on No. 13. He practically holed out from the green for a tap-in birdie on the 14th. And he practically holed his greenside bunker shot on the par-5 fifteenth for a fourth straight birdie.
After which all that work went for naught when his ball disappeared beneath the floor of the pond.
Matsuyama might afford a number of bogeys, and all that affected was the ultimate margin. He’s the Masters champion, a serious that defines his elite standing within the sport and provides golf in Japan the largest week it has ever had in April. The week began per week in the past Saturday when Tsubasa Kajitani gained the second Augusta Nationwide Girls’s Newbie.
Matsuyama wasn’t round to see it, however he was nicely conscious of it. All he wished was to comply with her path and make Japan proud. His play spoke volumes.
ESPN’s David Purdum contributed to this story.