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A decade after he won the low amateur spoils at Augusta National, Hideki Matsuyama is The Masters champion.

The 29-year-old survived a late scare when his second shot into the 15th found the water beyond the green. 

However, he held on to convert his 54-hole lead into a deserved one-shot victory over tournament rookie Will Zalatoris. Former champion Jordan Spieth and his fellow American Xander Schauffele tied for third two further strokes adrift. 

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It is the first major win of Matsuyama’s career and the first by a male golfer from Japan. He is just the second Asian male to win one of the game’s four marquee titles, emulating YE Yang, the winner of the 2009 US PGA Championship.

His win also comes just eight days on from compatriot Tsubasa Kajitani’s victory in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Matsuyama is hopeful that his win, and that of Kajatani, can positively impact the sport’s reputation back in their homeland. 

“It’s thrilling to think that there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today,” said Matsuyama. “In five, ten years, when they get a little older, hopefully some of them will be competing on the world stage. 

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“I hope it will affect golf in Japan in a good way. Not only those who are golfers already, but hopefully the youngsters who are playing golf or thinking about playing golf, I hope they will see this victory and think it’s cool and try to follow in my footsteps.  

“Up until now, we haven’t had a major champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of golfers or younger golfers, too, thought, ‘Well, maybe that’s an impossibility’. But with me doing it, hopefully that will set an example for them that it is possible and that, if they set their mind to it, they can do it, too.”

With his win, Matsuyama becomes just the seventh player to complete the low amateur / Green Jacket double. However, he admitted that, coming into the week, winning was pretty far from his mind.

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“It’s been a struggle recently,” he said. “This year, no top-10s, haven’t even contended. So I came to Augusta with little or no expectations. But as the week progressed, as I practiced, especially on Wednesday, I felt something again. I found something in my swing. 

“And when that happens, the confidence returns. And so I started the tournament with a lot of confidence.”   

He ends it with something even greater. 

He ends it as The Masters champion. He ends it as a major winner for the first time – and, on this form, maybe not the last.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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