Whether it’s the morning dew on the freshly cut fairways or the crisp aroma of the magnolias, something about Masters week makes life better for golf fans. The long-awaited return to Augusta National in April finally arrived – and it delivered. The highly coveted green jacket had another level of historical significance this time around. After 150 years in the history of professional golf, Hideki Matsuyama is now the first Japanese man to win a major tournament in the United States and the first Asian-born man to win the Masters.
Matsuyama’s victory was not without drama. Going into Sunday, Matsuyama had a four-stroke lead, and, as he acknowledged afterward, the pressure was all on him. At one point, his lead was six strokes ahead of the competition.
However, as Augusta’s reputation goes, the course will quickly humble the greatest of golfers. On the 15th hole with a four-stroke lead, Matsuyama went for the green in two strokes, which would have sealed his victory. Nevertheless, an unlucky bounce led to him getting a bogey. Normally, a bogey with a lead is not catastrophic, but Xander Schauffele was in the process of a four-birdie rally.
For a moment, it seemed that the momentum had shifted beyond repair. Schauffele’s rally and Matsuyama’s bogey would be the beginning of the end for what would have been history. Still, fate was always on Matsuyama’s side. Not even 5 minutes after Matsuyama’s bogey, Schauffele would hit his tee shot from the 16th into a pond and end the hole with a triple bogey. It was clear at this point that history was about to happen.
Matsuyama’s victory at Augusta is a full-circle moment for the ten-year professional. In 2011, Matsuyama took the low-amateur honors. The amateur golfer that scores the lowest, compared to other amateurs, is named the low-amateur champion. Almost ten years to the day, Matsuyama was accepting a different award. An award he was arguably destined to win.
As he walked up to receive his green jacket, Matsuyama was cementing his legacy as more than just the winner of the 85th Masters. As he strode to greet Dustin Johnson, the 2020 winner, he was etching his legacy as a pioneer. A pioneer not only for Japanese golfers but for Asian golfers as a whole.
No matter what happens next for Matsuyama, he will forever be likened to a Neil Armstrong-esque hero for millions of young golfers across the globe. The image of him victoriously raising his arms in victory shows the beauty of golf. It is a testament that greatness is achievable by anyone who truly dedicates themselves to it. Matsuyama will not only be remembered for breaking the glass ceiling, but for doing it in a cinematic way that left no doubt that this was his moment.