Hideki Matsuyama Became Japan’s First Men’s Major Winner At The Masters

Hideki Matsuyama entered Sunday as the leader by four at the Masters after a brilliant 65 in the third round moved him to 11-under, and while he didn’t produce his best golf in the final round at Augusta National, he had given himself enough cushion to take home his first green jacket and win the first major by a men’s player from Japan.

Matsuyama got off to a rocky start, pushing his opening tee shot into the right woods and making bogey, but bounced back with a comfortable birdie on the second and then went on a run of pars before a pair of birdies to close his front nine on 8 and 9 to give him a five shot lead headed to the back nine.

His lead got as high as six after a bogey from young Will Zalatoris (aka Happy Gilmore’s caddie) on the 12th, but the rest of the way it was a grind for Japan’s best golfer. Xander Schauffele, who struggled early alongside Matsuyama in the final pairing, caught fire, birdieing four straight holes, starting with No. 12, to close the gap on Hideki. However, Matsuyama kept Xander at arms length thanks to the shot that very well will be looked back on as the one that won him the tournament, as he showed why he was the best at scrambling all week with a sensational chip on the 13th to set up a much needed birdie after a bogey on 12.

The tournament got really interesting on 15, when Matsuyama crushed a 4-iron over the green, bounding into the pond on 16, while Schauffele was in the bunker in two just to the right of the green. Xander got up and down with a brilliant bunker shot, while Hideki was able to salvage bogey after a safe chip just shy of the green and then a two putt from there.

With the lead down to just two and momentum clearly on Schauffele’s side, Xander pulled an 8-iron and took aim at the pin, but had the shot come up just short, bouncing off the bank and into the water. He would go on to make a triple bogey 6, ending his bid at a green jacket, while Hideki made yet another bogey to allow Will Zalatoris to get within two and in the clubhouse. Matsuyama stabilized on 17, hitting two perfect shots to leave a comfortable two putt for par, giving him a healthy cushion going to the final hole.

On 18, Matsuyama needed just a bogey to win, entering the hole two clear of Zalatoris, and found the right greenside bunker after a perfect tee shot. He’d chop out safely to 8 feet and while his par putt went begging, it was an easy tap in for a final round 73 to win the Masters by one stroke.

It was a longtime coming for Matsuyama, a player who has been sensational at Augusta since he debuted in 2011 as the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion and earned low-am honors. He’s had two top 10s before this and five top 20s in the last six Masters before breaking through for his first major championship at the place his career stateside took off. He joins a sensational list of players, including Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, to earn low-am and go on to win a green jacket in their careers, and, already a megastar in Japan, will become an absolute icon after this win.

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