Making History: Hideki Matsuyama Wins the 2021 Masters, Becoming The First Japanese Man to Win a Golf Major

Hideki Matsuyama finished strong at the Augusta National to claim victory at the 2021 Masters. The Japanese golfer won the 2021 Masters ahead of Will Zalatoris for his first major triumph, which must have gotten the golf punters by surprise. Matsuyama shot a final round 73 to finish with a 10 under par score, one shot ahead of the American. He has been bunched together with his competitors before the weather caused an hour-long delay on Saturday. After that, he propelled himself to the lead in the third round with some entertaining golf. 

The fourth round was on Sunday, and Matsuyama managed to hold off stiff competition from Zalatoris and Schauffele. The victory saw him make history by becoming the first Japanese man to win a golf major. It also helped him to end a winless drought that has lasted almost four years.   

As the Masters’ tradition dictates, Dustin Johnson, who won the tournament last year, presented Matsuyama with his Green Jacket. Johnson did not make the cut this year as he suffered his own struggles. The 2021 champion sat alongside Johnson and his translator in the Butler Cabin, where winners usually receive the Green Jacket. 

In his victory speech, the Japanese expressed his delight that he had been the trailblazer for other Japanese golfers to win the tournament in the future, Matsuyama is now priced at 26/1 to retain his green jacket in 2022

Matsuyama’s Path To Victory

It was Justin Rose who stole the headlines after his brilliant opening round. However, Matsuyama was not far behind. Friday presented a tough test as the winds swirled and the greens were fast. But on Saturday, Matsuyama put his foot on the pedal. Rose was already stuttering, and the stormy weather forced play to be stopped for an hour after that, Matsuyama hit his stride.

The Japanese hit four holes in the last eight holes. He also managed an eagle and no bogeys helping him into a four-shot lead with 18 holes remaining. There was tough competition from Zalatoris, who impressed in his Masters debut who reduced the lead to one shot. 

However, Matsuyama found his groove again, birdying the eighth and ninth to cement his lead. At some point, his lead was six, but Schauffele put in an excellent fight to reduce the lead to four. The lead was reduced further after a spectacular 15th hole which the Japanese found the water with his second shot. This saw the gap between the top two reduced to two shots with three holes remaining. 

The pressure seemed to get the better of Schauffele as he found the water on the par-three 16th. In the long run, he finished with a triple-bogey which ended his hopes of claiming his first major triumph. Matsuyama displayed poise and stability to hold on to the lead andmake history

For the 24-year-old Zalatoris, it was a dream four days for him as he came to within a shot of making history. He was trying to do what Fuzzy Zoeller did in 1979 by winning the Masters on his first attempt. He revealed in the post-round press conference that his performance had motivated him. He also claimed that he would be back in 2022 and was hopeful that he would be victorious in his second try.   

Matsuyama’s US Open 2017

The Japanese was ranked 25th in the global rankings and was not one of the names being tipped as likely winners of the 2021 Masters. This was probably because he had not won on the PGA Tour since August 2017. His other best performance was at the 2017 US Open, where he tied second behind Brooks Koepka. 

Matsuyama made history by becoming the first Japanese man to win a golf major. However, two Japanese female golfers had already managed that. Chako Higuchi won the 1977 LPGA Tournament, while Hinako Shibuno was the winner at the Women’s British Open in 2019. 

His victory on Sunday marked a victorious few weeks for Japan and its golfers at Augusta National. Tsubasa Kajitani had emerged the winner at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur eight days before Matsuyama’s historic victory. 

Tiger Woods, who has won the Masters five times, congratulated the Japanese on his historic win. On his official Twitter account, Woods praised the 2021 winner for making his country proud. He also claimed that Matsuyama’s momentous win would have a significant impact on the world of Golf. 

Matsuyama also received congratulatory messages from the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, who claimed that the win was “wonderful”. The Prime Minister claimed that the victory had given the Japanese courage and inspiration in a time when they are fighting a health pandemic. He also acknowledged that Matsuyama had made history by becoming the first Japanese to win the Masters. Suga also said that Matsuyama was the first Asian to win a major golf tournament which was an inspiration to the entire Asian community.

 

 

Image by Armand Barragan

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