Hideki Matsuyama: Japan’s New Global Sporting Superstar


Photo Courtesy skysports.com

After winning the 2021 Masters Tournament, Hideki Matsuyama celebrates in his Green Jacket.

Jackson Edwards, Sports Co-Editor

As the azaleas continue to bloom amongst the Georgia pines, halfway across the world, Hideki Matsuyama has bloomed into a superstar in his home country of Japan. After his Masters win, which was the first major victory for a Japanese male golfer, Matsuyama flew home to Japan to a warm welcome from his countrymates.
After trailing by three shots going into Saturday’s third round, Matsuyama shot a 7-under par 65, which vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard where he led by four shots over second round leader Justin Rose. This charge was marked by a torrid stretch on the famed Amen Corner.
On Sunday, as he looked to become the first Japanese golfer to win a major championship, he fought off various challenges from TOUR veterans such as Xander Schauffele as well as the young and up and coming Will Zalatoris. One the 72nd hole of the tournament, he safely made bogey in order to secure the victory by one shot over the United States’ Will Zalatoris.
This stellar play came as a shock to some avid golf fans around the world, including Hugh Lemonds (9), who believed that other players were better suited to win at the difficult Augusta National.
“I thought that Xander Schauffele was going to win as he had played well at the course in the prior tournaments,” Lemonds said. “I was shocked that Hideki won but at the end of the day, I am happy that he achieved such an amazing feat for himself and his country.”
This victory was a breakthrough victory in the career of Matsuyama. After breaking into the golfing world in 2011 when he won the low amateur award in that year’s Masters. After earning his way to the PGA Tour, he won numerous TOUR tournaments such as the Memorial, Waste-Management Phoenix Open, and two World Golf Championship. Despite these great victories, the Japanese international lacked the elusive major championship that would have vaulted him into pan-Asian fame.
This lack of a major championship was a surpise to many, including Jack Patrick (10).
“Ever since his low amateur performance at the Masters in 2011, I thought Hideki was bound to become the first player from Japan to win a major championship,” Patrick said.
Since his win on the second weekend of April, Matsuyama has been treated like royalty throughout his home nation. His win erupted the island nation into a period of excitement and joy. In an interview with pgatour.com, Naoyuki Komatsu, PGA Japan host and the first Japanese play to ever play on the PGA Tour, described the reaction that Matsuyama was receiving back home in Japan.
“The Prime Minister, the former Prime Minister, movie stars, athletes, everyone is exulting,” Komatsu said. “They’re telling him ‘Thank you’. I guess that’s the Japanese mentality. We’re very grateful for him winning because we hope, we cheer on, we pray. And we know that puts a tremendous pressure on him.”
Despite being an unlikely winner of the world’s most prestigious golf tournament, Matsuyama’s win has impacted his home nation, and the rest of the Asian world, in a way that will leave a lasting impact on the Asian world for years to come.