The First Japanese Winner


Bailey Bryan, Staff Writer

Golf is viewed as a mostly white sport, but over the years, golfers from other nations have begun to not only win tournaments, but also to win major championships. In the last twenty-five years, eleven Masters champions have come from foerign nations such as Fiji, England, South Africa, or Australia. But for the first time in history at the 2021 Masters, Hideki Matsuyama became both the first Japanese and Asian champion.

“I’m really happy,” Matsuyama said. “My nerves really didn’t start on the second nine. It was right from the start today and right to the very last putt. I was thinking about [my family] all the way round today and I’m really happy I played well for them.”

Matsuyama shot a round of 73, or +1 over par, on his final day of the tournament cementing himself in Masters history. The round was full of nerves as Matsuyama had a troubling back nine. In his last three holes, he accumulated three bogeys, and a near double at 15 which could have cost him the tournament. Rookie Will Zalatoris finished one stroke behind and twenty-seven year old Xander Schaufelle was pressing hard until a  triple bogey on 16 cost him a near come-from-behind win.

As the first Japanese winner in Masters history, Matsuyama has become a public hero in Japan. Recently, Matsuyama was presented the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his grand feat and spoke about its impact in his life.

“Due to the influence of the coronavirus, both worldwide and across Japan, we are all living different lives, but even in these times, if this win can provide a sliver of hope to people, and inspire more kids, or even just one kid to want to try and play golf in the future, that makes me extremely happy,” Matsuyama said.

Matsuyama’s victory provides hope to a nation plagued with national disasters since 2011, and an opportunity for many other Japanese golfers to strive to go as far as win Major Championships. Matsuyama’s win has already shaped history, and one day its effects will be seen.