Hideki Matsuyama wins with a groundbreaking performance
Leading the final round from start to finish, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan won the 85th Masters on Sunday to become the tournament’s first Asian-born champion and the first Japanese man to win a major golf championship. Matsuyama began the fourth round with a four-stroke advantage and shot a one-over-par 73 on Sunday to finish the tournament at 10 under par, one stroke ahead of the runner-up, Will Zalatoris, a 24-year-old making his Masters debut.
Matsuyama’s victory will make him a national hero in golf-crazed Japan, which has had a rich history of producing world-class male golfers who have come close to winning a major championship over the past several decades, but have fallen short. Matsuyama’s breakthrough victory comes at a time of unrest over racially targeted violence against Asians and Asian-Americans during the pandemic.
Matsuyama, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour and the low amateur at the 2011 Masters, has long been considered the golfer from Japan who would break through on the sport’s biggest stage for men. Two Japanese women have been major champions.
Matsuyama, 29, was ranked as high as second in the world four years ago but suddenly fell into a slump. Until Sunday, he had not won a tournament since 2017, and his ranking had slipped to 25th worldwide.
But after a sparkling 65 in the third round Saturday — he had an eagle and four birdies in his final eight holes — Matsuyama came into the final round with a heathy cushion atop the leaderboard. He ran into trouble down the stretch, with bogeys at three of the final four holes, including No. 18, but ultimately held on for the win.
Matsuyama, who is usually trailed by a large gaggle of media members from Japan at every event he plays worldwide, may have benefited at the Masters from the restrictions on international travel during the pandemic. Few reporters from Japan could attend the 2021 Masters. When asked Saturday night if a diminished media presence had been helpful to him, Matsuyama smiled.
“It’s not my favorite thing to do, to stand and answer questions,” Matsuyama said through a translator. He said he understood the role of reporters at events, but conceded: “With fewer media, it’s been a lot less stressful for me.”
Tiger Woods was driving at speeds up to 87mph (140km/h) in a 45mph zone when he was involved in a serious car crash earlier this year, Los Angeles police revealed during a press conference on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles county sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Tiger Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details Wednesday, citing unspecified privacy concerns for the golf star. Woods suffered serious injuries in the Feb. 23 crash when he struck a raised median around 7am in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The Genesis SUV he was driving crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch that police said is known for wrecks. Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries.
Tiger Woods has had surgery for multiple fractures of his right leg after a car accident that a Los Angeles police officer said he was “very fortunate” to have survived. The golfer was “awake and responsive” after the operation to insert a rod into his tibia and stabilize his ankle with pins, according to a statement by his TGR foundation on Tuesday night.
Summoning the spirit of Ben Hogan might not be enough for Tiger Woods to prolong a remarkable career. That the golf world is not prepared for Woods to call time on tournament pursuits was clear in the aftermath of the road accident which left the stricken 45-year-old requiring prolonged surgery on his right leg. Golf wants to cling on to an individual who transcends the sport and has single-handedly hauled it into a different commercial stratosphere. The post-Woods age has lingered somewhere in the distance for some time, with nobody really willing to address what it may entail.