Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese player to win a major golf tournament on Sunday at the famous Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The four major tournaments held each year include the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and The Open. Out of all the major tournaments to win, I would argue the Masters is most coveted by any player because of the several traditions that are continued each year, including the infamous green jacket awarded to the winner.
The Masters was held Thursday through Sunday with a cut being enforced after the second round. The opening round of the Masters was an impressive one for Justin Rose, who shot an incredible seven under 65 to start the tournament. This was an amazing round because the conditions were not the best on Thursday compared to when the Masters was played last November. The greens were firm and fast so it was hard for the players to land the ball on the green and keep it from rolling off the back of it. After the first day of the tournament, Rose had a four-shot lead over Matsuyama and others who were tied at three-under after the first round.
Rose struggled in the second round as he finished the first nine holes at three over par, but he fought back and made three birdies on the second nine holes to finish the day at even par and maintain his lead at seven-under. Matsuyama had a slow second round as well, shooting a 1 under 71, but several players shot a low score in the second round to tighten up the leaderboard including Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth, and Marc Leishman. Several big names missed the cut after the second round on Friday including defending champion Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Rory Mcilroy, and Brooks Koepka who was recovering from knee surgery but still wanted to play in the tournament.
Rose’s lead was only one shot heading into the weekend and he would continue to struggle after that impressive opening round. The third round was highlighted by Matsuyama’s score of 65, the same score Rose shot in the opening round, putting him in the lead by four shots heading into the final round on Sunday. Four players were tied for second including Rose who remained at seven-under-par since the first round. Other players tied for second place before the final round included Xander Schauffele, Leishman, and Zalatoris.
Matsuyama’s lead was quickly erased as the final round began on Sunday because Zalatoris made two birdies right away and Matsuyama made a bogey on the first hole which cut his lead to one shot after he finished the first hole. He would quickly get one shot back on the second hole with a birdie and go on to make two more birdies in the first nine holes. The tournament seemed over as Matsuyama increased his lead to four shots, but Schauffele made an impressive charge by making birdies on holes 12-15.
On hole 15, Matsuyama hit his approach shot over the green into the water and made bogey on the hole, so Schauffele only trailed by one shot with three holes left to play. He had the honor of hitting first on the 16th hole, one of the famous par threes, and hit his tee shot into the water. He would make a triple bogey on the hole which eliminated his chances of catching Matsuyama.
Matsuyama did not have a great final round since he shot a one-over 73, but the four-shot lead he had at the start of the day paid off as he ended up winning by one shot over Zalatoris who came in second. One of the funny parts about the celebration is that Matsuyama does not speak English well, so he needed a translator for all the interviews. It was a special moment for him since he was carrying the whole country of Japan on his shoulders to become the first man to win a major tournament for the country. If you would like more information about the 2021 Masters, you can find it here.