Hideki Matsuyama’s Incredible Year in Reviewby Mike Quintero October 27, 2021 3 comments
2021 has been a memorable year for 29-year-old Hideki Matsuyama as he captured his second PGA Tour victory in the calendar year on Sunday at the Zozo Championship. This is his seventh PGA Tour win and sits one shy of K.J. Choi as the leader in PGA Tour wins for Asian-born players. “I’m glad I’m getting close to that particular record,” he told reporters after securing his Zozo Championship.
If you’re a fan of golf then you’ve surely noticed Matsuyama’s name at the top of the leaderboard thought-out most of 2021. He continues to provide the field with high-quality competition, outlasting big names like Rory McIroy and Bryson Dechambeau among others in multiple tournaments. This win caps off an amazing year for one of Japan’s best golfers to ever play the game.
Zozo Championship Oct. 20-24, 2021
After shooting a 65 on Sunday, Matsuyama moved to 12th in the Offical Golf World Rankings, and finally accomplished the very sought-after personal achievement of winning in his home country of Japan. This was an emotional win for Matsuyama, who through translators told reporters “It was one of my biggest goals to win in front of the Japanese fans here in this country.” Matsuyama went on to remark on how glad he is to win the Zozo following the Masters just as his friend and competitor Tiger Woods did in 2019.
When looking back on his tournament at Narashino Country Club this past weekend Matsuyama credited some of his energy to the fans, “thanks to all the Japanese crowd out there, I was able to feed off of their energy and play well.” Fans of Matsuyama are elated to see this win, and golf fans alike can’t help but clap for Matsuyama, who has played the game with a keen sense of poise and prowess in 2021.
2021 Masters April 5-11, 2021
In April, Matsuyama made history, becoming the first Japanese male player to win a major, securing a green jacket in Augusta and putting his name, and Japanese golf back on the world map with a Masters victory. In a tournament as regal as the Masters, every player is running high on adrenaline but Matsuyama’s cool and collected approach guided him to a historic championship. The finish at Augusta National didn’t come as easily as Zozo did, Matsuyama bogeyed four holes on the back nine while Tour rookie Will Zalatoris made a serious push to steal the Masters from the Japanese native.
Matsuyama prevailed as we all know, winning the tournament by one stroke, giving the golf masses an emotional finish that won’t soon be forgotten. The shining moment of this tournament though, was when a photo was snapped of Shota Hayafuji, Matsuyama’s caddie who gave an honorable bow to the course after pulling the 18th pin on Sunday. “I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag,” Hideki said of Shota. A Masters moment to surely be etched in the pages of golf history.
2020 Tokyo Olympics July 29- August 1, 2021
In between the two monumental wins, Matsuyama participated in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but was unable to medal as he lost in a playoff match for bronze, missing a birdie putt to secure his place on the podium. Following a Masters victory that solidified the competition in Japanese golf, Matsuyama was hoping to bring some of the same magic with him back home. Bearing the weight of expectations is a given in any professional sport, but competing in the most globally recognized level of athletic competition introduces a significantly elevated sense of responsibility to perform.
Following the round, he reflected on his mistakes stating, “I knew that if I had ended my round with a birdie, I was going to get a bronze medal. I’m left with a frustration that I wasn’t able to convert the opportunities.” Missing a putt to medal has to put any player into a mental frenzy, but he was able to analyze his game and look forward to more opportunities ahead. “There are things that I’ve identified that I need to work on, which I hope to work on moving forward,” said Matsuyama.
The Future for Hideki
The future looks bright for Matsuyama, throughout this year he has consistently been on the leaderboard and proves to be a threat to tour leaders like Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, and Patrick Cantlay to name a few. Winning the Masters was a huge accomplishment for Matsuyama and Japanese golf as a whole, and made Matsuyama a household name for loyal golf and PGA fans. Following a hometown win at the Zozo championship, be on the lookout for him to ride this momentum going forward and continue to fight for a world No. 1 ranking.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images