“When the last putt started, I really wasn’t thinking of anything,” Matsuyama told the media during his post-round press conference.
“But then hug Xander [Schauffele] … when I saw my caddy Shota and hugged him, I was happy for him, because this is his first victory on the bag. And then it started to sink in – the joy of being a Masters champion. “
Have an impact at home
When he put on the green jacket and held in his hand the famous trophy that depicts Augusta’s clubhouse, Matsuyama could begin to ponder the significance of his victory.
After four grueling days of bad weather, stormy winds and heavy resistance, the 29-year-old’s one-shot victory at the Masters ensured that he was the first Japanese to win a golf major.
Although others have come close before, a country with a rich athletic background has long waited for a great champion.
Until the emotions overwhelmed the commentators on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). At the moment of Matsuyama’s victory, TBS spokesman Wataru Ogasawara said, “Matsuyama won the Masters!” before he tears up and says: “Finally, finally, Japanese has become the best in the world!”
Co-commentator Tsuneyuki Nakajima burst into tears and couldn’t speak after the win.
Like Yu Darvish in baseball and Naomi Osaka in tennis before him, Matsuyama hopes his win can bring a bright future to golf in Japan.
“I hope this will have a positive effect on the game of golf in Japan,” he said.
“Not just those who are already golfers but hopefully the youngsters who play golf or are thinking about playing golf. I hope they will see this win and find it cool and try to follow in my footsteps.
“So far we haven’t had a great champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of golfers or younger golfers thought maybe that’s an impossibility. But if I do that, hopefully it will set an example.” to them that it is possible and that they can do it if they choose to. “
“If that’s the benchmark, then I’ve set it.”
After his win, in which he showed a remarkable demeanor despite a nearly four-year drought without a win, Matsuyama believes he has raised the standard for his Japanese fellow golfers.
“I cannot say that I am the greatest [golfer in Japan’s history] . However, I’ll be the first to win a major, and if that’s the benchmark, then I’ve set it. “
With the Olympics coming to his homeland later this year, he will be under pressure to bring home the gold medal.
In the meantime, Matsuyama has already been asked to light the Olympic cauldron for the Summer Games, which he called a “great honor”.
After having some time to process his victory, he travels back to Japan with an extra piece of green clothing in his suitcase.
The prospect of inspiring a new generation of golfers appeals to Matsuyama, although he warns that they have to get past him if they want to win.
“But I have many years left so you still have to compete against me. But I’m happy for you because I hope you can follow in my footsteps.”
Mai Nishiyama and Chie Kobayashi contributed to this report.