The hour and fifteen minute rain delay was a key to Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama’s performance on Saturday evening at the 85th Masters Tournament. Matsuyama was on the 11th hole of the second nine when the Augusta National Golf Club officials suspended play due to impending inclement weather. Matsuyama at this juncture was a few shots off of the lead and needed a run heading into the final round.
The golfer said that he spent the delay in his car on his phone. This pastime must have worked wonders, as Matsuyama birdied the eleventh hole, the one he played following the delay. Matsuyama continued to blitz the remaining holes as he birdied the tricky 12th, eagled the 15th and birdied both the 16th and 17th to take a commanding four-shot lead into the final hole.
Matsuyama expanded his lead in the final round on Sunday in a runaway fashion, but not without some stumbles. The leading golfer gave a couple of shots back in the last few holes and even rinsed his second shot on the par five 15th hole when he flew the green. Even with a closing bogey, Matsuyama held on to win by a shot over Masters rookie Will Zalatoris. Xander Schauffele and former Masters champion Jordan Spieth tied for third at seven under, three behind the winner.
With this major championship win, Matsuyama now has six PGA Tour titles and is a vibrant superstar in the Japanese media. Matsuyama is the first male, Japanese golfer to win a major championship. With this impressive win, he not only became an exclusive member of Masters Tournament champions, but also a Japanese golf hero. The golfer can attribute his new title to this impressive ball striking, beautiful chipping and timely putting.
With his win, Matsuyama bested some of the best championship golfers. He beat Spieth, a previous Masters champion with two other major championship titles, who now has five top-three finishes at the Masters. Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship, was lurking behind Matsuyama until a disastrous triple bogey eight at the makeable par five 13th derailed his chances on Saturday. Also, major championship hunter Schauffele made a great run on the second nine on Sunday to get within two standing on the 16th tee but made a triple bogey six and finished tied for third. He now has eight top 10 in 15 major starts.
Justin Rose led the first two rounds after an impressive nine under stretch for the last 11 holes in his first round and finished in a solo seventh position.Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who is now 50 years of age, finished in a tie for 21st at even par.
The April Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club was not the first time that these golfers competed in the past six months. The 2020 Masters was moved to November last year due to COVID-19. In the delayed November Masters, Dustin Johnson set the tournament’s scoring record. In April, Johnson’s record remained untouched by Matsuyama, since the spring course was much firmer, faster and more challenging.
The Masters Tournament is, as Jim Nantz elegantly says, “a tradition unlike any other.” This year’s Masters Tournament certainly delighted all golf followers with a worthy champion and a hint of normalcy in terms of tournament scheduling.