Hideki Matsuyama won the 85th Masters in dramatic fashion on Sunday, holding off Xander Schauffele down the back nine to become the first Japanese man to capture a major golf title.
Matsuyama struck for crucial birdies in a pressure-packed march at Augusta National, hanging on over the final holes for a historic one-stroke victory.
Matsuyama took the green jacket symbolic of Masters supremacy, a top prize of $2.07 million and a place for the ages in Japanese sports history.
Hideki Matsuyama – 2021 Masters champion. #themasters
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 11, 2021
After seeing his seven-stroke lead with seven holes remaining shaved to two shots with three to go, Matsuyama watched Schauffele find water off the 16th tee on the way to a triple-bogey disaster.
Matsuyama settled for bogey but closed with par at 17 and a bogey at 18 to fire a one-over-par 73 and finish 72 holes on 10-under 278.
American Will Zalatoris was second in his Masters debut on 279 after a closing 70 with US three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and American Schauffele sharing third on 281.
Matsuyama became only the second Asian man to win a major title after South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun at the 2009 PGA Championship.
Matsuyama, ranked 25th, hadn’t won since the 2017 WGC Akron tournament, but 87 starts later, he matched the victory from his only other 54-hole outright PGA lead, at the 2016 WGC Shanghai tournament.
The best prior majors by Japanese men were Isao Aoki’s runner-up effort at the 1980 US Open and Matsuyama’s share of second at the 2017 US Open.
No prior Japanese player had finished better than fourth at the Masters.
Japan’s two previous major golf titles belonged to women, Chako Higuchi from the 1977 LPGA Championship and Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s British Open.