AUGUSTA, Ga. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Hideki Matsuyama delivered golf-mad Japan the grandest and greenest prize of all.
Ten years after Matsuyama made a sterling debut as the best amateur at Augusta National, he claimed the ultimate trophy Sunday with a victory in the Masters to become the first Japanese winner of the green jacket.
Matsuyama closed with a 1-over 73 and a one-shot victory that was only close at the end, and never seriously in doubt after Xander Schauffele’s late charge ended with a triple bogey on the par-3 16th.
Moments before Dustin Johnson helped him into the green jacket, Matsuyama needed no interpreter in Butler Cabin when he said in English, “I’m really happy.”
The perfect fit.
Hideki Matsuyama dons the Green Jacket for the first time. pic.twitter.com/nTKH3F1qxr
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 11, 2021
So masterful was this performance that Matsuyama stretched his lead to six shots on the back nine until a few moments of drama. With a four-shot lead, he went for the green in two on the par-5 15th and it bounded hard off the back slope and into the pond on the 16th hole.
Matsuyama did well to walk away with bogey, and with Schauffele making a fourth straight birdie, the lead was down to two shots with three to play.
The next swing all but ended it. Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-3 16th bounced of the hill and dribbled into the pond. His third shot from the drop area went into the gallery. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.
Never mind that Matsuyama bogeyed three of his last four holes. All that mattered was that uphill walk to the 18th green, needing only to blast out of the bunker and take two putts for the victory.
That’s what he did, a final bogey for a one-shot victory over 24-year-old Masters rookie Will Zalatoris, who finished 9-under 279.
Matsuyama finished at 10-under 278 for his 15th victory worldwide, and his sixth on the PGA Tour. He becomes the second man from an Asian country to win a major. Y.E. Yang of South Korea won the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine over Tiger Woods.
Zalatoris, a native of Plano, Texas, made his name know during Masters weekend after he entered as the No. 46 golfer in the world. He earned praise from Dallas native Jordan Spieth earlier this year.
“I know he’s a very confident individual,” Spieth said. “We have been playing, we played quite a bit of golf in Dallas together, actually, throughout the weeks. We play a lot with… Tony Romo, and we get other pros in the area and have some really good games. So it’s been nothing surprising over the last couple years after watching him week-in and week-out at home, and the game was clearly good enough to carry on to any level of golf. So, excited to see him doing so well and I think this is just the start for him.”
Zalatoris went to Trinity Christian Academy and went on to attend Wake Forest University.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)