By Will Pembroke, multimedia show manager
Professional Golf Association member Hideki Matsuyama made history last weekend by becoming the first Japanese winner of the green jacket, the prize for coming in first place at the Masters golf tournament.
The 2020 Masters was played at Augusta National Golf Club in November, and was delayed from its usual April start due to COVID-19.
In November, the course played easier than ever. The rough was thinner and easier to hit from, and the greens were easier to read and putt on than normal.
Known for its extreme level of difficulty, Augusta National was not what it usually is. This spring was a completely different story than last fall.
Greenskeepers at the world-renowned course were frustrated upon hearing about how much easier it was to play at Augusta in the fall and decided to take it up a notch for this spring’s tournament.
Players struggled mightily to gather and sustain momentum throughout, leading to the lowest winning score since 2017.
Matsuyama won this past weekend primarily due to his consistency. Matsuyama finished under par in rounds one through three, and was only +1 on Sunday’s final round.
Matsuyama clearly took the approach of taking the tournament one hole at a time, picking his spots to birdie while also knowing when a par was the greatest victory.
Finishing with a final score of -10, Matsuyama outlasted some of golf’s brightest young stars including Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm.
The final nine holes were nothing short of a challenge for the field, with the leaderboard under Matsuyama seemingly changing after every hole.
When Schauffele made four straight birdies leading up to the par three 16th hole, he was poised to take the lead.
Unfortunately for Schauffele, a first shot splash into the water killed the momentum he had, leading to a triple bogey which all but ended his comeback attempt.
From a historical standpoint, this year’s Masters tournament was one of the best in recent memory.
Ten years ago, Matsuyama played in the Masters amateur tournament and won, becoming the first Japanese player to accomplish the feat.
History repeated itself this past weekend on a grander stage and the value of Matsuyama’s win cannot be understated.
Japan is one the leading countries in the world for the growth of the game of golf.
The impact made by a Japanese player winning on golf’s biggest stage will not only be of benefit to Matsuyama, who is likely to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in Japanese endorsement deals as a result of his victory. The impact will be felt for the continued expansion of the game of golf across the world, and especially in Matsuyama’s native Japan.
The 2021 Masters was a good return to form for Augusta, as it was entertaining and showed off it’s difficulty.