Ten years after Matsuyama started playing well as a leading amateur at Augusta National, he won a major trophy on Sunday with a Masters victory to become Japan’s first green jacket winner.
Matsuyama closed with a 1-over 73 win and a one-goal victory near the final, and he never doubted too much after Xander Schauffele was fined three times on 16 16.
The minute before Dustin Johnson helped him put on a green jacket, Matsuyama didn’t need to translate to Butler Cabin while saying in English, “I’m so happy.”
This was played so skillfully that Matsuyama extended his lead and fired six times after nine until the last few minutes of the match. With four shots fired, he went blue in pairs on the 15th to the 15th and tied tightly from the back slope into the 16th hole.
Matsuyama did well to go with the bogey, while Schauffele made a fourth straight birdie, the lead dropped two shoots to three.
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The next turn was all but over. Schauffele’s gun on the 3rd of 16 climbed a hill on the left and into the lake. His third shot went from the tow area into the gallery. Added to the triple bogey, and his third call is close to great.
Don’t worry Matsuyama punched his last three holes, the first Masters champion in the last round since Trevor Immelman shot 75 in 2008.
The only thing that matters is that the walk to the green place is eighteen, all you need to do is blow up this house and take two putts to win.
And that’s what he did, he filled the moment with a few thousand spectators at his feet to celebrate the moment of change of career – 29-year-old Matsuyama, and he hopes the whole world will be there.
“I hope to become a pioneer and many more Japanese will follow,” said Matsuyama.
Then Zalatoris, a 24-year-old Masters rookie, threw an 18-foot par putt in the last hole to make it 70th and second. It was a great performance for the first time at the Masters since another Dallas kid, Jordan Spieth, ran in 2014 with Bubba Watson.
Spieth has had a few passing thoughts of coming from six shots in the back without too many mistakes missed early and missed chances too late. He tied his last hole in the 70s and tied the third with Schauffele, who shot 72 with a bogey three times and a double bogey on his card.
Matsuyama finished 10-under 278 with his 15th World Cup victory, and his sixth on the PGA Tour.
He becomes the second person from the Asian country to win a major. Y.E. Yang Korea from South Korea won the 2009 PGA Championship in Hazeltine over Tiger Woods.
Returning to the green eighteenth presentation of the cup, he again put on the blue jacket and raised both arms in victory. Augusta National allowed limited viewers, believed to be about 8,000 a day, and most of them probably remembered him a decade ago.
He won the Asia-Pacific Amateur to receive an invitation to the Masters, and was a less educated man – arrested with defending champion Phil Mickelson that year – to secure a trip to the famous Butler Cabin. He won in Japan as a favorite, and four times after graduating from college he became a champion. His first PGA Tour victory came at the Memorial in 2014, prompting competition manager Jack Nicklaus to say, “I think you’ve just seen the beginning of what will be one of your world’s best players in the next 10 to 15 years.”
That moment came Sunday.
Matsuyama is not emotionally great, and speaks very little – even tied to a corner after all rounds by a lot of Japanese media.
Most of the news was absent this year due to the COVID-19 tourism restrictions, and Matsuyama had said the day before the final round that he had made things very stressful.
There was a lot on the golf course, right from the start.
Matsuyama sent his shotgun to the trees directly on the first fairway. He slammed it under the trees with pine grass, played a soft voice down the slope away from the pin and enjoyed walking with the bogey. Two groups before him, Zalatoris opened with two straight birdies.
As such, leadership has come down to one.
No one approached until the last hour. Matsuyama made a birdie with a box in the front of the second 5th hole. He didn’t make another birdie until the 5th, and it didn’t matter because no one could press him.