This past Saturday he flew into a surprising leading position atop the Masters leaderboard. On Sunday, he claimed one of the most historic Green Jacket wins in recent history. ANDRE HUISAMEN argues Hideki Matsuyama’s triumph at Augusta will carry a long legacy.
Last year, when Dustin Johnson blew the rest of the field away with a record-breaking score, it proved rich reward for the greatest player in the world. It had to be Johnson to win the 2020 Masters in November and it was.
This year the game of golf yielded an awakening performance and witnessed a victory of a man who will go on to inspire generations of golfers across the world, but more specifically from Asia.
The first-ever Japanese men’s player to win a Major and the first Asian player to triumph at Augusta. How ironic as well that Matsuyama’s win came a week after 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani, also from Japan, won the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateurs?
Apart from Tiger Woods’ incredible comeback win in 2019, this Matsuyama performance felt like the boost the growth of golf needed. Not to mention the respectful tribute his caddie delivered after replacing the 18th flag – taking off his cap and bowing as a token of appreciation and respect.
For the first time in quite a while, it felt as if a Masters victory meant a whole lot more than just a famous Green Jacket ceremony.
Sometimes we tend to get caught up in the obsession of wanting the best in the world to win. We then forget the big impact of someone like Matsuyama winning, although he has been a familiar face in the world of golf for a number of years now.
Nobody could have predicted his spectacular rising to the summit during moving day in such a manor. Many still suggested in the Compleat Golfer poll on Sunday that Xander Schauffele or Jordan Spieth would be the ones to win.
Instead victory belonged to a man who immediately dedicated his Green Jacket to the people of Japan and said how much it will mean to the game in his country.
Ultimately, that is what we as fans and lovers of the game want to see – the growth, development and rise of other contenders, who bring something new to the party.
Last year it felt like Johnson’s victory and his alone. This week it feels as if the global game as a whole is smiling because a player with the determination and resilience of Matsuyama came out on top.
As Woods mentioned on Sunday, the impact of Matsuyama’s win will seismic.