After sleepless night time, golf-mad Japan celebrates Matsuyama’s historic Masters triumph

“A legend within the golf world is born. A brand new period for golf begins!” he tweeted after the 29-year-old recorded Japan’s first Masters title — and Asia’s first. “Thanks for empowering glad information within the time of COVID-19.”

On Japanese Twitter, #GOHIDEKI began trending within the early hours of Monday morning. Quickly, the top-trending hashtags have been #MatsuyamaHideki, #GreenJacket, #theMasters, #Matsuyamawin, #historicmoment and #lasthole.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga known as the victory an “wonderful feat.”

It was additionally the primary time a Japanese man had gained any of golf’s majors, and the stress will need to have been monumental as Matsuyama started his remaining spherical on Sunday. Ultimately, he shot a 1-over spherical of 73 to win the event by one stroke over Will Zalatoris.

“Matsuyama continues to be younger, so I’ve even better hopes for him sooner or later,” Suga instructed reporters. “With the extended COVID-19 pandemic, he’s given braveness and inspiration to all Japanese individuals.”

Japan is within the grips of a fourth wave of the pandemic, and has reimposed a quasi-state of emergency over a lot of the nation, with bars and eating places requested to shut early.

Satirically, that in all probability didn’t do Matsuyama any hurt, liberating him from the gaggle of Japanese reporters who usually canine his each step, and he acknowledged Saturday that it had been a “lot much less worrying” with fewer media representatives round.

However on Sunday in Augusta, Ga., and on Monday in Japan, was a time for celebration not criticism.

“I’m glad to be a pioneer and I hope many different Japanese will observe,” Matsuyama instructed the Japanese media.

Japanese golfer Yusaku Miyazato was additionally celebrating. “I can’t consider a day like that is right here,” he mentioned on a reside TV broadcast. “I simply need to inform him, ‘Thanks.’ ”

It has been an important month for Japanese golf, after 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani gained the Augusta Nationwide Girls’s Newbie championship.

The height years of Japanese golf started throughout the nation’s post-war financial increase, when it grew to become not solely a standing image however a vital a part of company tradition. Its reputation declined after the nation’s financial bubble burst within the early Nineteen Nineties, however participation reportedly bounced again final 12 months throughout the pandemic.

It additionally grew to become a key a part of the nation’s diplomatic armory lately, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe utilizing his shared love of golf to construct a detailed relationship with President Donald Trump.

A decade in the past, a teenage Matsuyama had been the lowest-scoring newbie on the 2011 Masters. His honor then was a welcome ray of sunshine in Japan’s restoration from the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that left greater than 22,000 individuals lifeless or lacking.

The golfer had been in Australia on the time, however had returned residence to search out his lodging at Tohoku Fukushi College destroyed and the nation gripped in grief. Uncertain whether or not he ought to even compete in Augusta in 2011 or keep residence and assist with restoration efforts, his dad and mom, his college and his teammates persuaded him to go.

A decade later, his Masters triumph introduced again these recollections.

“As the primary win by a Japanese and Asian, it was a second that not solely myself however golf followers throughout Japan had been ready for,” mentioned Isao Aoki, chairman of the Japan Golf Tour Group.

“Within the 2011 Masters, Japan was hit with the Nice Japanese Earthquake, and when the Japanese individuals have been damage, his low-amateur honors introduced a whole lot of braveness to the devastated individuals. And this time when the world is hit with the coronavirus, and when a lot is restricted in Japan, and persons are feeling down, I actually suppose his win introduced a whole lot of hope to everyone.”

Actor Ken Watanabe echoed these sentiments.

“Ten years from the earthquake and tsunami, you’re a highly effective champion bringing hope to many individuals,” he tweeted. “From the underside of my coronary heart, congratulations.”

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