The Masters 2021: Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leads celebrations after Hideki Matsuyama’s historic win

Matsuyama became the first Japanese man to win a major as he triumphed at Augusta on Sunday

Yuri Kageyama,Koji Ueda
Monday 12 April 2021 08:24
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Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his Masters victory at Augusta
Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his Masters victory at Augusta

Led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan celebrated Hideki Matsuyama’s victory in the Masters on Sunday as the 29-year-old became the first Japanese player to win a golfing major.

“It was really wonderful,” Suga said with his country struggling to pull off the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which is set to begin in just over three months.

“As the coronavirus drags on, his achievement moved our hearts and gave us courage.”

Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki, who tied for eighth in the Masters in 1973, said he hoped more Japanese male golfers would be inspired by Matsuyama.

“This is a great achievement for the Japanese golf world,” he said in comments on Japanese media. “And it came about because of Mr Matsuyama’s own ability to take up challenges, his courage and all the effort that went into that.”

Isao Aoki finished second to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 U.S. Open, the previous best finish by a Japanese male golfer in a major.

Two Japanese women have won golf majors: Chako Higuchi at the 1977 LPGA Championship and Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s British Open.

Aoki recalled how Matsuyama won the low amateur title in the 2011 Masters just weeks after an earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors devastated the northeastern Fukushima area of Japan.

About 18,000 people died in the disaster and the area is still struggling to recover.

“This time, your Masters win came at a time when many people were feeling down, with many activities restricted in Japan amid a coronavirus pandemic, and you gave hope to so many people,” Aoki said in comments carried online in Japanese in Golf Digest.

Aoki added: “This win, which was the first for a Japanese as well as an Asian, was a moment we were all waiting for, not just myself but all the Japanese golf fans and those involved in the golf world.”

The US Embassy in Japan sent its congratulations to Matsuyama as “the first Japanese golfer to win The Masters”.

Outside busy Shimbashi train station in central Tokyo, retired worker Takashi Atsumi called it a “tremendous result”.

“For him, I think it was a goal that was hard to reach despite his tremendous efforts over the past 10 years,” Atsumi said. “I think it’s absolutely fantastic that he was able to achieve the goal today. I think he set a great milestone for the next generation of Japanese people.”

AP

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