The Masters and the history behind Matsuyama


Dylan Epstein, Staff Writer

On April 11, Hideki Matsuyama won the 85th Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia.  He was the first Japanese-born player to win a major tournament in the history of golf as well as the first Asian-born player to win at Augusta.  This is a momentous event; it marks a turning point and provides hope for the young players of Japan.  

The Masters is a tournament where the best of the best come together to compete for the gold coin, a trophy, a large cash payout, and the famous Green Jacket.  The winner of the tournament becomes part of an exclusive club, and receiving the Green Jacket symbolizes membership in this club.  

“As someone who plays a lot of golf, I hope that one day I can get the chance to play at Augusta National or even watch the Tournament live and learn from these top players,” said sophomore Chase Pastolove.  

The road to success for Matsuyuma wasn’t easy and this win is significant for Japan.

Hideki Matsuyama was born on Feb. 25, 1992 in Ehime, Japan.  He began playing golf at the age of four and has continued playing ever since.  He transferred to a high school in Japan where golf was the top priority allowing him to focus on his dreams.  He excelled so much  that, in 2012, he became the number one amateur golf player in the world.  He turned professional in 2013 and rallied up five wins on the PGA tour, none of which were at large tournaments, prior to the Masters.  

On April 8, the Masters began and Matsuyama started out playing well, but not as strongly as he could have.  He only had one bogey in his first round on Thursday as he pared and birdied all other holes.  He shot a 69 in the first round, leaving him 4 strokes behind the leader at the time, Justin Rose.  Other players that Matsuyama was battling with throughout the tournament were Will Zalatoris, who placed ase runner-up, Jordan Speith, Xander Shauffele, and Jon Rahm.  

In the second round, Matsuyama shot one under par, making him four under in total for the combined two rounds.  He didn’t play as consistently, as he had three bogeys, however he saved the round  with an eagle on the 13th hole and a few birdies along the way.  Justin Rose shot par that day, and the chances of him winning kept on increasing.  Notable players who didn’t make the cut after the second day included Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, and, surprisingly, Dustin Johnson, who currently ranks first in the PGA Tour. 

“Seeing Dustin not make the cut was really heartbreaking because he has played exceptional golf all year long.  Another player who stunned me was Rory Mcllory as this was the first time he missed the cut since first participating in the tournament in 2009.  He had eight bogeys and one double bogey through his first two rounds which is a huge disappointment to how he usually plays,”  said sophomore Cal Gober.

The tides turned on the third day when Matsuyama played spectacularly with a seven under par.  He had no bogeys and, once again, had an eagle in the round, this time on the 15th hole.  Justin Rose shot another even on the round and his odds of winning became very slim.  This round allowed Matsuyama to take over the leader’s spot heading into the final day.

On the fourth and final day of the tournament, it was a close run between Matsuyama, Shauffele, and Zalatoris.  Schauffele is a veteran in the Tour, while this was just Zalatoris’ first time competing at Augusta.  Despite the pressure going into the last round as the leader, Matsuyama put up another solid round, playing well  enough to win the tournament shooting one over par on the afternoon.  

Matsuyama had many bogeys, but he balanced them out with birdies on other holes.  He finished ten under par giving him just a one stroke victory over Zalatoris.  When Matsuyama tapped in his final putt on hole 18, the crowd went wild, and he celebrated the victory with his caddie, Shota Hayafuji.  Before putting the flag back into the cup, Hayafuji bowed to the course to show his respect and his gratitude for the Masters.

 Matsuyama’s win was not only a step towards greater distinction for Japan in sports overall, but he hopes it will pave the way for other Japanese golfers to pursue their dreams.