Golf: Hideki Matsuyama’s historic Masters win ‘worth a billion dollars’

Hideki Matsuyama’s historic win at Augusta National is going to make him very rich.

The 29-year-old became the first Japanese man to win a golf major by finished 10-under to win the Masters by one shot from American debutant Will Zalatoris.

Masters win ‘worth a billion dollars’

Matsuyama’s victory will see him rival Naomi Osaka as the most famous athlete in Japan and could make him a billionaire, according to two-time US Open winner Andy North.

“There is more pressure on Hideki to win this major championship than any player who has ever had a chance to win a major,” North said on ESPN before the final round.

“It would change golf in Japan — and Japan has been a golf-crazed nation for years … they adore anyone who plays this game.

“I can’t even imagine how much money this would mean to him, besides being the King of Japan. This is not a crazy person talking, a win here would be worth a billion dollars.”

Matsuyama was ranked 37th on the list of golf’s all-time money leaders with $41 million entering the tournament but took home $2.8 million (AUD) for the win. Tiger Woods is first with $159 million.

There are now predictions Matsuyama will be asked to carry the Olympic flag for Japan at the Tokyo Games later this year.

Matsuyama was previously one of two Japanese men to finish runner-up at a major after he finished second to Brooks Koepka at the 2017 US Open.

Two Japanese women have won majors — Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 British Open and Chako Higuchi at the 1977 LGPA Championship.

The only other Asian man to win a major is South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun at the 2009 PGA Championship.

Matsuyama also joined legends like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as one of seven golfers to finish as the low amateur at the Masters — Matsuyama did it in 2011 — and then go on to win the event as a pro.

How Hideki won the Masters

Matsuyama won the 85th Masters in dramatic fashion, holding off Xander Schauffele down the back nine.

Carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, Matsuyama calmly grinded out clutch pars and struck for crucial birdies in a pressure-packed march at Augusta National, hanging on over the final holes for a historic one-stroke victory.

After seeing his seven-stroke lead with seven holes remaining shaved to two shots with three to go, Matsuyama watched Schauffele find water off the 16th tee on the way to a triple-bogey disaster.

Matsuyama settled for bogey but closed with par at 17 and a bogey at 18 to fire a one-over-par 73 and finish 72 holes on 10-under 278.

Zalatoris was second in his Masters debut on 279 after a closing 70 with US three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and American Schauffele sharing third on 281.

The tension of the moment was on display at the start, Matsuyama hitting his first tee shot well right into trees on the way to a bogey. He shook it off at the par-5 second, blasting out of a greenside bunker and tapping in for birdie.

Matsuyama saved par at the fifth on a 20-foot putt and used a deft touch with short irons to set up birdies. He missed a three-foot birdie putt at the seventh but responded by making three footers to birdie the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth and reach 13-under, leading by seven strokes with seven holes remaining.

Matsuyama made bogey at the par-3 12th and hit a tree off the tee at the par-5 13th but recovered for birdie as Schauffele made his move.

Schauffele had back-to-back bogeys ahead of a double bogey at the fifth, but answered with birdies at seven and eight and reeled off four birdies in a row starting at the 12th.

Tension grew as Matsuyama found the water over the green at the par-5 15th and made bogey while Schauffele had a tap-in birdie to pull within two shots with three holes to play.

But Schauffele’s tee shot met a watery fate at the par-3 16th and he made triple bogey, his first in any major after 1,041 prior holes.

Matsuyama, 29, held his nerve. He made his second bogey in a row but was four clear of Schauffele and two ahead of clubhouse leader Zalatoris.

After a par at 17, Matsuyama needed only a bogey at the last for the victory. He found a greenside bunker at 18 and blasted out to six feet, sent his par putt inches past the cup, then tapped in for bogey and the triumph his golf-loving homeland had awaited for so long.

One by one, Matsuyama’s rivals fell back, early stumbles leaving their rallies too little and far too late.

Zalatoris, trying to be the first player to win the Masters in his debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, was second at the turn but bogeys at 10 and 12 dropped him back.

Spieth, trying to become only the third player since 1960 to win the week before and take the Masters, had three bogeys in the first six holes and not even four back-nine birdies could lift him into contention.

England’s Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, had three bogeys in the first five holes and fired a 74 to finish seventh on 283, one back of Spain’s third-ranked Jon Rahm and Australia’s Marc Leishman.

Who is Hideki Matsuyama?

Age: 29 Born: February 25, 1992

Birthplace: Ehime, Japan Home: Sendai, Japan

Height: 180cm Weight: 90.7kg

Turned Professional: 2013

Highest world ranking: 2

Current world ranking: 25

Career US PGA Tour titles: 6

Career major titles: 1 (Masters: 2021)

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