Communicated content- Ladies, and gentlemen, we have a winner! Presenting…Japan to the world. Rise on your feet, put your hands together for… (wait for it…drum rolls) Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama is the new golfer to pull on the famous green jacket!
Matsuyama’s Win is Historical
Call it a decade of destiny if you may – Matsuyama has finally conquered the Masters after ten years since he stepped foot at Augusta National. His win is not just a win as he becomes the first Japanese ever to win the Masters – to be precise, he is the first Asian-born Masters champion.
His win comes after he led the final round from the beginning to the end. Matsuyama started the final round with an advantage (four-stroke), then shot a 1-over-par 73 to become the 85th Masters champion. He finished the Masters at 10-under-par just a shot – one shot – above Will Zalatoris.
Japan has a rich history of producing world-class golfers who have come this close (thumb and index finger in close proximity sign) to winning a major championship. They have always fallen short, and now, Matsuyama is a national hero.
He is not a newbie in the game and has quite some history. Matsuyama has won the PGA Tour five times and has always shown signs of breaking through on the big stages. Four years ago, the 29-year-old had been ranked as high as 2nd in the world but lost his spark and fell into a slump. Before the 2021 Masters, his last win was back in 2017 and as he found himself dropping to the 25th position in the world’s rankings, and wasn’t exactly a sportsbook favorite to win.
How About a Debutant in the Runners-Up?
Will Zalatoris (-9), a 24-year-old Masters rookie, was the runner-up, what many have called his ‘breakout moment’. He was the only player in the Masters to record four rounds under par – if this is not putting the golfing world on notice, we don’t know what is. (This has nothing to do with him becoming a meme.)
Zalatoris went full alpha from the get-go and birdied his first 2 holes and seemed the only golfer on the pitch with the gumption to challenge Matsuyama. He was nearly crowned the first player to ever win the Masters on his debut since 1979 – but fell one shot short.
The debutant oozed confidence and showed his ability to remain unfazed even under high pressure, and we should expect more from the young lad in the PGA Tours years down the line. The 2021 Masters marked his 3rd major championship start, and he has already shown that ‘he got game’ by finishing in the top-10 twice.
Winning the Masters certainly doesn’t come without a fight; Zalatoris was followed by two championship leaderboard regulars, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth. Both tied in third at 7 under. The pair showed some intentions to contend for the green, but they made mistakes that reduced their chances to win.
Matsuyama started the fourth round with a healthy lead cushion (a four-stroke lead) which was then cut to one. He then grew his lead to as high as six till on No. 15, where he found the water making the contest even more interesting. The fourth round was wild, but the champion seemed to have all the answers – his birdies at No. 9 and No. 13 are worth mentioning.
Schauffele’s Crumble at 16: Diabolical Wind?
There are certain things that Schauffele will want to forget, and a triple bogey on No.16 is one of them. That was the haunting detail in his final round. He also had a double-bogey at No. 5, but the triple bogey on the 16th tee sank his hopes of clinching his first major championship.
Schauffele had the champion on the ropes and had cut Matsuyama’s four-shot lead to only two. Well, well, we all know that Augusta National has a history…perfect shot; imperfect ending. His clean-cut shot was eaten up by the wind and into the pond sending the big punch thrower flat on his back!
Drama, surprises, and spirited competition usually characterize the Masters, year in, year out. After his historic comeback in 2019, The Tiger didn’t roar this time, and you might say you were lost in the ‘Woods’, but the Masters tournament didn’t lose its charm, right?