Matsuyama’s Historic Win
Golf not only remains a popular sport among US retirees living their golden years out on the links. It’s also a major sport in other countries, particularly, Japan. Japan breeds millions of golfers, men and women alike. And Hideki Matsuyama just became the first Asian-born male to win The Masters.
The fabled tournament takes place each April at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters marks the first (and most prestigious) of four major tournaments; The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and The Open Championship. Previous Masters winners include some of the best pros of all time; Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Gary Player.
While the majority of winners are US born, players representing other countries have won the tournament before. Hideki Matsuyama will now reach international fame here in the States, in his motherland of Japan, and in the rest of the golfing world.
He began his final round Sunday 11 under par, a fantastic score. When approaching the tee on the first hole, Matsuyama took an extended moment to himself. You could almost feel the weight of his entire nation on his shoulders. This was clearly a make or break moment. His first drive sliced right and landed in the trees.
Crafty recoveries kept him in the lead the entire final round. However, he suffered a couple mishaps on the back nine. This opened the door for Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris to catch him. In the end, though, Matsuyama prevailed, two-putting his way to victory on the 18th green.
Caddie Shoya Hayafuji’s Respectful Gesture
A visibly emotional Matsuyama hugged his caddie before dawning his first-ever Green Jacket. His caddie, Shoya Hayafuji, became a newsworthy entity in his own right. Caddies carry a tradition of removing the flag from the 18th green as a memento when their golfer wins a tournament. After the historic win, Hayafuji collected the flag from the 18th. But he did something else. Everyone is now marveling at the moment when he replaced the pin. He slid the pole back into the hole, removed his cap, and bowed. It was a sign of respect for Augusta National. And it was a glorious moment.
Hideki Matsuyama started golfing when he was 4. He plays with a slightly unorthodox swing, pausing at the top to generate power. He then continues with his follow-through. He’s also a very private person. He gives no more than what is necessary at interviews and lives quite modestly for a professional golfer.
Golf legend Tiger Woods tweeted his congratulations to Matsuyama. “Making Japan proud Hideki, Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment for you and your country. This historical @TheMasters win will impact the entire golf world.”
When asked about his big win, Matsuyama said, “Up until now, we haven’t had a major champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of golfers or younger golfers, too, thought, well, maybe that’s an impossibility. But with me doing it, hopefully that will set an example for them that it is possible and that, if they set their mind to it, they can do it, too.”