By Matthew Wong
History was made on Sunday, April 12th, 2021. The 2021 Masters Tournament crowned Hideki Matsuyama its new winner and hinted at a return to normalcy with an increased number of fans back on the course.
The tournament is played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, every year during the month of April (except last year’s tournament, which was rescheduled to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
A return to the original tournament date and the welcoming of 12,000 golf fans was overshadowed by Hideki Matsuyama’s win. In winning this prestigious golf tournament, Matsuyama became the first Japanese man to win a golf major.
At the conclusion of the tournament, last year’s winner, Dustin Johnson, presented Matsuyama with his own Green Jacket, etching him into Masters and golf history.
Hideki Matsuyama’s path to victory was no easy feat. During the opening round of play, Justin Rose stole the show as he played an excellent round of golf. Friday’s swirling winds and fast greens caused more trouble for Matsuyama. However, Rose’s stuttering play gave an opening to the Japanese golfer who went on to storm into a four-shot lead in the final eight holes. Rose was not Matsuyama’s only competition, as Will Zalatoris, the 24-year-old debutant, and Xander Schauffele made pushes to climb to the top of the leaderboard.
Matsuyama found his groove on Saturday, though, as he birdied the eighth and ninth holes to extend his lead over Rose, Zalatoris, and Schauffele.
On the final day of the tournament, Schauffele crumbled under pressure and Matsuyama showed his poise and experience. In the final two holes, he maintained his lead to capture the win.
At the start of The Masters Tournament, Matsuyama was ranked the 25th best golfer, and he was not projected to win The Masters. His last win on the PGA Tour was in August 2017. But after this performance, his rank is sure to rise as well as his reputation.
Five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods applauded Matsuyama’s accomplishment, tweeting, “Making Japan proud Hideki. Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment for you and your country. This historical Masters win will impact the entire golf world.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also had high praise for the golfer, saying, “With the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, he's given courage and inspiration to all Japanese people.”
Matsuyama was very humble in his interview, detailing his hopes to be a pioneer for others. He said, “Hopefully I'll be a pioneer and many other Japanese people will follow. I'm glad to be able to open the flood gates hopefully and many more will follow me.”
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