Hideki Matsuyama and the shot that changed his life


Kate McCartney

The Prairie Green Golf Course is one of the many golf courses in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Kate McCartney, Feature Editor

Despite finishing as a low amauter exactly a decade ago, Hideki Matsuyama made headlines on Apr. 11, 2021, when he became the first Japanese professional golfer to win the 85th annual Masters.

Matsuyama’s golf career took off back in 2013 when he won his second professional tournament, the Tsuruya Open on the Japan Golf Tour. He then qualified for the PGA tour one year later, in 2014, and has gained six U.S. titles ever since. This is his first substantial victory, and he is only the second Asian-born professional to win a men’s major golf championship. 

“When the final putt went in, I really wasn’t thinking of anything. But when I saw my caddie, Shota, and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag,” said Matsuyama, through an interpreter. “And then it started sinking in, the joy of being a Masters champion.”

Although the entirety of his performance at Augusta National was commendable, what stood between him and first place was only a single stroke on the third day. Matsuyama, however, was able to let the weight of his country’s pride roll off of his shoulders and eventually reign victorious. 

Not only has Matsuyama become a household name for all golf fanatics since his success; he also has the potential to become a billionaire in all of the sponsorships and endorsements that will be likely coming his way. 

“I can’t even imagine how much money this would mean to him, besides being the King of Japan. This is not a crazy person talking, a win here would be worth a billion dollars,” said Andy North, two-time U.S. Open winner and ESPN golf analyst, before the final round of the Masters.

Matsuyama’s entire career has led to this point, but he still is a little weary of handling the spotlight. 

“I’m not sure how to answer this in a good way, but being in front of the media is still difficult,” said Matsuyama. “It’s not my favorite thing to do, to stand and answer questions.”

One of Matsuyama’s next major appearances will take place at the rescheduled 2020 Olympics in his home country of Japan. There have also been speculations that he will be asked to carry the flag of Japan, this summer, or even light the cauldron at the Olympics’ opening ceremony. 

Matsuyama’s historic run at the Masters is certainly just the start of a very bright career in professional golf.