Hideki Matsuyama Takes Home the Green Jacket at Augusta
Hideki Matsuyama made history on Sunday becoming the first Japanese-born golfer to win The Masters tournament and take home the coveted green jacket.
Few sports can have somebody perform at a sub-par level and still be crowned a champion at the end of the day. Matsuyama entered Sunday holding a comfortable lead at -11 with Xander Schauffele sitting four strokes back at -7. Matsuyama struggled to find his swing early with a bogey on the first hole and then pars on the following six holes while Schauffele started the day off strong with a birdie at the second hole. Schauffele would stumble toward the end of the front-nine with a few bogeys putting him seven shots back of Matsuyama after nine.
Schauffele caught fire on the back birdieing holes 12, 13, 14, and 15 to get within two strokes of the leader, Matsuyama. A triple-bogey on the 16th ended Schauffele’s day and gave Matsuyama some breathing room with three holes to play.
Will Zalatoris, who was in the second to last group to tee off before the leaders, was a late addition to the Masters’ field and he played well all weekend. So well that he found himself teeing off Sunday also sitting at -7 for the tournament. Zalatoris hung in there most of the day as he would birdie one hole and then bogey the next, not really gaining any ground on Matsuyama. He finished the day -1 for the round and -9 for the tournament.
With Schauffele out of the picture, and Zalatoris in the clubhouse, Matsuyama walked up to the 18th green holding a two-stroke lead on Zalatoris, with a makeable par putt in front of him that would clinch him the Masters’ win. Some say it was a bad read, but I’ll give Matsuyama the benefit of the doubt and say it was the adrenaline, but the par putt sailed left of the hole and was an easy tap-in bogey putt to win The Masters by one stroke.
Matsuyama, a class act, removed his ball from the hole, removed his hat and shook hands with Schauffele and his caddie after a long 72-hole battle. As he walked off the green, the champ was greeted by fellow Asian golfer, Kevin Na; and only then did the emotions start flowing as it had finally set for Matsuyama that he was the 2021 Masters champion.
Saturday, or “moving day” in the golf world, wasn’t too kind to Justin Thomas. Moving day will either put you into contention, like we saw with Matsuyama who shot -7 on Saturday, or it will take you out of contention, like we saw with Thomas.
Thomas came into Sunday sitting ten strokes back of the lead at -1 and never really got anything going. Maybe it was the pressure of having to post a low score, but Thomas found himself battling on every hole, which doesn’t usually work well at Augusta National. The former Alabama golfer traded birdies and bogeys throughout the front nine and finished even-par after nine holes.
Following a bogey on the 11th, Thomas strung together birdies on 12 and 15 before falling to consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17. With a par on the 18th, Thomas finished -1 on the day and EVEN for the tournament. He finished T-21 and ten strokes back of the lead.
It’s not yet known when the next time we’ll see these golfers is, but what we do know is that these men will be back fighting for another major on May 20th for the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
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