Hideki Matsuyama made history at the Masters on Sunday, becoming the first male Major winner from Japan, claiming the Green Jacket by just one shot from Will Zalatoris.
Hideki Matsuyama Makes History With Masters Triumph
The Japanese star’s last victory came at the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but a final round 73 meant he would claim his first Major title.
Matsuyama now becomes Japan’s third ever Major winner and first male champion, joining Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women’s British Open) and Hisako ‘Chako’ Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship).
The 29-year-old had started the day with a four-shot lead after a sensational finish in his third round that saw four birdies and an eagle in his last eight holes.
Despite the comfortable starting margin, Matsuyama’s lead was cut by three shots on the opening hole, making bogey at the first. His nearest challenger, Will Zalatoris would birdie his first two holes to sit just one shot back.
However, Matsuyama’s lead was soon back to three. With Zalatoris making bogey at the third, Matsuyama would produce a birdie at the par-5 second.
American Zalatoris was playing two groups ahead of Matsuyama, and cut the deficit back to two shots with a birdie at the par-5 eighth.
But the tournament winner would fire back, producing some scintillating wedge shots at the eighth and the ninth for back-to-back birdies.
With Zalatoris making a bogey five at the 10th hole, Matsuyama would have a huge five shot lead going into the back nine of the Masters.
Although the back nine at Augusta National has determined the outcome of many previous Masters, it seemed that the former Silver Cup winner wouldn’t buckle.
Two solid pars at the 10th and 11th extended his lead further and, despite making his sixth bogey of the week at the par-3 12th, Matsuyama was well on his way to claiming the Green Jacket.
Things looked to be unravelling slightly on the par-5 13th. However, two extremely lucky breaks with his tee shot and second shot led to an unlikely birdie.
It wasn’t just Zalatoris that was making a challenge, but a new contender was beginning to break out from the pack.
American Xander Schauffele was flying on his back nine, with four consecutive birdies at the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th putting him only two shots behind the Japanese star.
But the 27-year-old would produce a huge mistake at the par-3 16th. Finding the water with his tee shot, Schauffele would then fly the green with his next shot, eventually finishing with a triple-bogey six.
A few groups ahead of Matsuyama, Zalatoris had laid down the clubhouse target, with two birdies in his last four holes meaning a final round 70 and a nine-under-par tournament total.
With two holes remaining, Matsuyama would make a solid par at the 71st hole, before a bogey at the last would mean a one shot victory over Zalatoris.
The victory was Japan’s second win at Augusta National in a matter of weeks, with Tsubasa Kajitani claiming the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in a playoff last week.