Japan finally has a male major golf winner after Hideki Matsuyama won the 2021 Masters Tournament.
Hideki Matsuyama held a four-stroke lead with four holes to play and it looked likely Japan would celebrate its first-ever male major championship winner.
Indeed for much of the back nine, Matsuyama looked in complete control managing to keep himself a handful of shots ahead of American Xander Schauffele.
However like all Masters Tournaments, a twist was yet to come on the back nine at Augusta,
Matsuyama’s second to the par-5 15th hole went low and hard, air-mailing the green and rocketing into the water to have golf-mad Japan holding its collective breath.
Escaping with a bogey as Schauffele made birdie from the bunker, things got interesting.
But it was here where Schauffele’s four-consecutive birdie run came to a crashing halt. A poorly struck 8-iron came up short, bounced into the water and ending all hope of a stirring comeback victory for the American.
While Schauffele’s major record is remarkable; eight top-10s in 15 starts, must have the 27-year-old wondering when his time will come.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 12, 2021
Matsuyama later told attendees in the Butler Cabin that he only truly thought he had won the tournament when his drive down the 18th landed in perfect position on the fairway.
A closing, two-putt bogey after finding the greenside bunker sealed a one-stroke victory over young American Will Zalatoris who playing in his first Masters.
As tears welled in Matsuyama’s eyes as he walked off the green, his caddie replaced the flag, gave a short bow back to the golf course and history for Japanese golf had been made.
— AJP (@pricey43) April 11, 2021
Australia’s Marc Leishman was never truly in the tournament after making scratchy bogeys at the first and third holes, failing to get up-and-down for par on each.
Leishman’s closing round 1-over par 73 was enough to claim a top-5 spot, his second of his career at the Masters.
“I think I’m in all of them already anyway, but yeah, top 4s, top 5s in majors are good. You know, it’s just nice to play well,” Leishman said.
“Felt really good out there. My game felt as good as it has for a long time, and I’m excited for the rest of the year now.”
Cameron Smith posted his third top-10 finish in his last four Masters’ after a final-round 2-under 70.
Thankfully though, Smith is probably going to keep the mullet despite his girlfriend using him to cut it off.
“She hates it. She wants to cut it off. I know a lot of people — I think more than half want me to keep it,” Smith said after the round.
“So I think I’m going to keep it for the time being.”