Mastsuyama wins Masters
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama has made history at the 2021 Masters, becoming the first Japanese player to win the coveted green jacket at Augusta on Sunday (US time).
Ten years after making a sterling debut as the best amateur at Augusta National, Matsuyama claimed the ultimate trophy with a victory in the Masters.
Matsuyama, 29, closed with a 1-over 73 and a 1-shot victory that was close only at the end and was never seriously in doubt after Xander Schauffele's late charge ended with a triple bogey on the par-3 16th.
Moments before Dustin Johnson helped him into the green jacket, Matsuyama needed no interpreter in Butler Cabin when he said in English, "I'm really happy."
So masterful was this performance that Matsuyama stretched his lead to 6 shots on the back nine until a few moments of drama. With a 4-shot lead, he went for the green in two on the par-5 15th, and the ball bounded hard off the back slope and into the pond on the 16th hole.
Matsuyama did well to walk away with a bogey, and with Schauffele making a fourth straight birdie, the lead was down to 2 shots with three to play.
The next swing all but ended it. Schauffele's tee shot on the par-3 16th bounced off the hill and dribbled into the pond. His third shot from the drop area went into the gallery. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.
Never mind that Matsuyama bogeyed three of his last four holes to become the first Masters champion with a final round over par since Trevor Immelman shot 75 in 2008.
All that mattered was that uphill walk to the 18th green, needing only to blast out of the bunker and take two putts for the victory.
And that's what he did, soaking in the moment with a few thousand spectators on their feet to celebrate a career-changing moment.
"Hopefully, I'll be a pioneer and many other Japanese will follow," Matsuyama said.
Marc Leishman finished the best of the Aussies in fifth spot with a score of six under par, having started Sunday two shots off the pace.
IMAGE: Japan Times.